Britons splash-out on UK breaks over May bank holiday – with sales in Dorset and Cornwall soaring

  • This is Money given exclusive access to data from Mastercard  

Spending on staycations and home improvements rose sharply during the early May bank holiday, Mastercard spending data seen by This is Money reveals. 

Staycation spending across Dorset was 29 per cent higher year-on-year during the period, while rising 24 and 13 per cent in Cornwall and Devon respectively. 

Spending on accommodation in London increased by 11 per cent during the bank holiday, according to the latest Mastercard SpendingPulse insights data. 

Staycation spending: Spending on staycations and home improvements rose sharply during the early May bank holiday, data seen by This is Money reveals 

With consumers prioritising experiences over ‘things’ during the early bank holiday, retail sales slipped 0.6 per cent compared to a year ago. 

According to the findings, consumer confidence has reached its highest level since December 2021. 

Restaurant spending increased by 5.6 per cent year-on-year during the period.

In Dorset, Cornwall and Devon, spending in restaurants increased by 33 per cent, 9 per cent and 11 per cent year-on-year respectively.

The amount of money people spent in restaurants in London over the period grew by 1.6 per cent year-on-year, the data suggests. 

Aside from spending more in hospitality businesses, Britons also used the early May bank holiday to splash the cash on home improvements. 

There was a 3 per cent increase in spending on home improvements during the period, while spending on furniture and furnishings increased by 10 per cent.  

Spring makeover hotspots included Devon, where there was a 25 per cent increase in spending on home furniture and furnishings, and Cornwall, with a 17 per cent increase. 

Natalia Lechmanova, chief economist Europe, Mastercard Economics Institute, told This is Money: ‘As we come into – what will hopefully be – warmer months, people have been making the most of the extra time off over the bank holiday weekend to spend time exploring different parts of the UK, eating out at restaurants, and giving their homes a refresh ready for the summer.

‘A trend we are seeing across almost every region of the UK is an increase in spending on experiences over things, with consumer confidence and purchasing power on the rise, and a summer of big events ahead of us – including Taylor Swift’s European tour. 

‘However, as consumers now benefit from more purchasing power, some discretionary spending is now being channeled on “things” too. 

‘This may have a positive knock-on impact likely to be seen not just in the UK economy, but across Europe more broadly.’

The Consumer Prices Index rose by 2.3 per cent in the year to April, down from 3.2 per cent in the 12 months to March, data from the Office for National Statistics published last month showed. The next batch of  official inflation figures will be posted on 19 June.