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Vacation Deficit (Staycation) Trend Appears Headed Up this Year

I wrote an article in our February 2013 Leisure eNewsletter, Evidence that the staycation trend is both real & long-term, that showed that the staycation trend of declining participation and spending for entertainment on trips was a long-term trend that started in the late 1990s. That analysis also debunked the belief that people are shifting the entertainment expenditures they are no longer spending on trips to spending at hometown venues – that they are staying home and spending there instead. Yes, they’re staying home more, but not spending any more at community-based entertainment venues. Average household entertainment spending on trips has decreased by more than one-third (-38%) since its peak in 1996 whereas average household spending for community-based entertainment as only increased by 1% (both inflation-adjusted to 2011 spending).

National Park Service attendance data in my April blog showed further evidence of the staycation trend: there is declining per capita visits to parks.

A June 6-10, 2013 poll by Ipsos Public Affairs indicates the staycation trend is continuing and accelerating in 2013. They call it the vacation deficit.

The poll found that less than half of Americans (48%) say they are confident that they will take a vacation (defined as leisure travel of at least a week at least 100 miles from home) in 2013, down 4 points from last year’s poll. Just 13% of all households say they have taken a vacation in the last three months compared with 21% in last year’s poll. Just 45% say they typically take a summer vacation down 10 points from the poll two years ago. Ipsos says that fewer American’s taking an annual summer vacation of any kind is the new post-recession norm.

Ipsos found that those who intend to take a vacation this summer will spend more than last year. The average vacationer plans to spend $1,755 on their family’s vacation this year compared with $1,565 last year. That is a 12% bump in spending, far greater than inflation that is less than 2% per year.

Household spending on vacation

Also consistent with all our previously published research, the Ipsos shows a direct correlation between average household income and spending on trips.

Household confident take summer vacation

This increased spending is consistent with our analysis of entertainment spending on trips that found lower participation, but a trend of increased spending by those that did enjoy entertainment on their trip, as well as the concept that people are seeking higher fidelity, higher quality out-of-home leisure experiences and willing to pay more for that quality.

Younger households are more likely to take a summer vacation this year, but older households anticipate spending the most per trip.


About Randy White

Randy White is CEO and co-founder of the White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group. The 31-year-old company, with offices in Kansas City, Missouri, has worked for over 600 clients in 37 countries throughout the world. Projects the company has designed and produced have won seventeen 1st place awards. Randy is considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on feasibility, brand development, design and production of leisure experience destinations including entertainment, eatertainment, edutainment, agritainment/agritourism, play and leisure facilities.

Randy was featured on the Food Network's Unwrapped television show as an eatertainment expert, quoted as an entertainment/edutainment center expert in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and Time magazine and received recognition for family-friendly designs by Pizza Today magazine. One of the company's projects was featured as an example of an edutainment project in the book The Experience Economy. Numerous national newspapers have interviewed him as an expert on shopping center and mall entertainment and retail-tainment.

Randy is a graduate of New York University. Prior to repositioning the company in 1989 to work exclusively in the leisure and learning industry, White Hutchinson was active in the retail/commercial real estate industry as a real estate consultancy specializing in workouts/turnarounds of commercial projects. In the late 1960s to early 1980s, Randy managed a diversified real estate development company that developed, owned and managed over 2.0 million square feet of shopping centers and mixed-use projects and 2,000 acres of residential subdivisions. Randy has held the designations of CSM (Certified Shopping Center Manager) and Certified Retail Property Executive (CRX) from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

He has authored over 150 articles that have been published in over 40 leading entertainment/leisure and early childhood education industry magazines and journals and has been a featured speaker and keynoter at over 40 different conventions and trade groups.

Randy is the editor of his company's Leisure eNewsletter, has a blog and posts on Twitter and Linkedin.

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