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Holiday homes market leader Willerby declare that the Staycation is here to stay

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The current spike in popularity of the staycation is here to stay, holiday homes market leader Willerby has confidently declared.

Willerby’s view is supported by research and data, including sales, bookings and customer feedback.

The staycation is experiencing unprecedented popularity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people, including new types of customers, embracing the lifestyle and wellbeing benefits of holidaying in the UK. 

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Despite travel restrictions easing, there remains a degree of uncertainty and consumer caution about holidaying abroad and the evidence points to a prolonged period of popularity for the great British staycation. 

Willerby opened a fifth production line at its Hull site earlier this year in response to increasing demand for holiday homes, lodges and residential park homes. Its order book is now full until well into 2023. Photo: Shaun Flannery.

This summer Willerby opened a fifth production line at its Hull site and has taken on well over 200 additional staff within the past year, in response to increasing demand for holiday homes, lodges and residential park homes, with its order book now full until well into 2023.

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Willerby, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, surveyed 584 of its Owners Club members, of which 118 bought their first holiday home after the first lockdown in March 2020.

The survey highlighted a definite shift towards younger consumers, with those aged under 50 doubling from 9% pre-COVID to 18%.

Newer owners also said they intended to use their holiday homes more often, with 96% planning to visit at least once a month, compared to 91% of more historical consumers. 

A total of 43% of newer owners said they are enjoying long weekends in their holiday homes, compared to 30% of those who bought before March 2020. In addition, 14% of more recent buyers are also using their holiday homes for two or three-day midweek getaways, compared to 8% who bought their holiday homes before the pandemic struck.

GP and television personality Dr Hilary Jones supports the view the staycation is here to stay. Dr Hilary worked with Willerby on a major research project which emphasised the significant mental health and wellbeing benefits of taking shorter breaks. Photo: Shaun Flannery.

GP and television personality Dr Hilary Jones, who worked with Willerby on The Great British Break Off, a major research project in 2020 which emphasised the significant mental health and wellbeing benefits of taking short breaks over a longer holiday, said he was not surprised by the findings.

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Dr Hilary said: “The pandemic has changed our lives in many ways and people now realise the numerous advantages of staying on our own shores. They are very happy to have a staycation because it’s more convenient and less stressful. 

“Holiday homes give people greater freedom and versatility to regularly get away from day-to-day life when it suits them, rather than have the pressure and expectation that often comes with planning a longer foreign holiday. I would certainly recommend staycations for positive metal health. 

“The staycation is a great way to relax and unwind, away from life’s pressures, and I’m not at all surprised that all the indications point towards its continued popularity as people embrace this highly attractive lifestyle.”

Staycations are often centred around being in the countryside, close to nature, enjoying walks, swimming and the local environment – all of which Dr Hilary said can be highly therapeutic.

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“There’s plenty of research that shows being in the fresh air, looking at plants, trees, lakes and the sea, has a very calming effect on people,” said Dr Hilary. 

Dr Hilary also believes the impact of climate change will increase the likelihood of more people choosing to holiday in the UK, rather than in hotter foreign climates, in years to come.

“Climate change is at the forefront of people’s minds,” he said. “As well as concern about the carbon impact of flying, it’s very likely that some overseas holiday destinations will simply become too hot. We’re seeing a steady increase in skin cancers and awareness has increased significantly. 

“People tend to feel safe and secure in the UK and I only see this increasingly being the case.”

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Peter Munk, CEO of Willerby, is in no doubt the staycation is here to stay. Willerby has taken on a record number of staff during its 75th anniversary year. Photo: Shaun Flannery.

Peter Munk, CEO of Willerby, said: “There’s no doubt about it – the staycation is definitely here to stay.

“We’ve taken on a record number of staff and opened a new production line with great confidence, as all the evidence tells us this is much more than just a short-term reaction to the restrictions imposed on people due to the pandemic.

“More and more people have had their eyes opened to the health and wellbeing, social and community benefits of owning their own holiday home. They’ve experienced it, loved it and now they want more – and long may that continue.”

UK holiday specialist Hoseasons supports Willerby’s view the staycation is here to stay.

Hoseasons carried out extensive customer research which supports the view that the staycation surge will be enduring. In two separate surveys with a combined total of more than 3,000 respondents, Hoseasons found: 

  • 83% of those who have had a staycation this year are aiming to do so again.
  • 24% are already planning their next UK trip.
  • 52% are planning at least one staycation and one trip abroad in 2022.

The surveys, which were carried out between the end of August and the beginning of September, questioned 2,007 general respondents and 1,001 customers who had taken a staycation with Hoseasons this year.

The results also highlighted the reasons for the staycation’s appeal, with 34% of respondents citing comfortable and relaxing accommodation as their highlight, while 32% claimed it was having a change of environment and 30% said it was because it was less stressful than going abroad.

A total of 29% also said they experienced an improvement in their mental health after a staycation.

Hoseasons has witnessed significant growth in the number of new holiday park and lodge resorts entering the market, with an 85% increase in the number of sites joining its portfolio in 2021 compared to the same period before the pandemic in 2019.

The longer-term popularity of holidaying in the UK is further highlighted by data from Hoseasons’ parent company, Awaze, which shows bookings for summer 2022 are up 82% compared to where they were at this point in 2019 for summer 2020. Bookings are also up 62% for the whole of 2022.

Luke Hansford, Vice President for UK Business Development for Hoseasons, said the industry is adapting rapidly in response to increasing customer demand.

He said: “The current level of innovation across the industry is staggering. New developers are playing their part, but existing parks are also taking the opportunity to develop forward-thinking accommodation concepts that will grow their offering and future-proof their holiday rental accommodation success.

“We are seeing more and more diversification projects come online as owners look to take advantage of the buoyant market conditions that our latest consumer research suggests will last well into 2022 and beyond.”

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