Consumers are starting to spend more on travel services again, including with agents, as lockdown eases in the UK, new figures from Barclaycard show.
While spending across most sectors, including travel, is down on March 2019 levels, Barclaycard noted month-on-month increases in travel spending during the first-quarter of the year.
It comes after Barclaycard changed its measurement of consumer spending to compare it against the picture two years ago (March 2019) to reflect pre-pandemic spend.
In March, spend on hotels, resorts and accommodation was down 54.3% compared with March 2019. This is up from -75.4% in January and -70.3% in February.
It coincides with the government, from 12 April, permitting domestic breaks in self-contained accommodation, marking the first opportunity for Brits to take a leisure break for several months.
Spend with travel agents specifically is also recovering month-on-month; the rate of spending with agents in March was down 78% on March 2019, but up from -87.2% in January and -86.7% down in February.
Agents across England were able to reopen their doors on Monday (12 April) as the country forged ahead with the second stage of efforts to ease the Covid lockdown.
A similar recovery is true of aviation; spending with airlines in March was down 75.7% compared with March 2019, but up from -81.6% in January this year and -86.3% in February.
Spending on all five travel categories monitored by Barclaycard – hotels, resorts and accommodation, travel, travel agents, airlines and other travel – was up in March on figures from January and February.
Barclaycard described the latest figures as a "glimmer of hope for the travel industry", suggesting holidaymakers have "started to book trips for later in the year".
Additionally, Barclaycard instructed Longitude Research to poll 2,000 typical UK consumers over 26-29 March to inform its latest consumer confidence survey.
More than two fifths of Brits (41%) said they were planning a holiday in the UK this year as opposed to an overseas trip. Of these UK-bound holidaymakers, a further 41% said they were planning to spend more than they normally would travelling abroad.
Raheel Ahmed, Barclaycard head of consumer products, said: “With springtime finally here and restrictions starting to ease, it’s encouraging to see a renewed sense of optimism across much of the UK.
"There are also signs that some of those sectors most heavily impacted by the pandemic, such as hotels, resorts, accommodation and entertainment, are beginning to turn a corner, as many look forward to long-awaited trips and activities with family and friends after lockdown."