The Great British staycation : Mastercard insights show increase in early May bank holiday ‘experience economy' spending

June 6, 2024
  • UK consumers splashed out on staycations and home improvements during the early May Bank Holiday, as Mastercard SpendingPulse data shows uplift in spending across hospitality, home improvements, and lodging when compared to the same bank holiday in 2023.
  • People increasingly prioritising experiences over ‘things’ over the bank holiday, with retail sales slightly down (-0.6%) compared with 2023.
  • Data comes as consumer confidence rises to its highest level since December 2021.


6 June 2024, London: According to the latest Mastercard SpendingPulse insights, which measure in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, UK consumers invested in staycations and home improvements during the Early May Bank Holiday, with both areas seeing significant uplift when compared to the same bank holiday in 2023 (28th April to 1st May 2023).

Growth in staycations and London as a holiday destination

People are choosing to spend their money on experiences, including holidays and eating out. SpendingPulse data shows an uplift in spending on lodging overall across the UK compared to the same holiday last year. Notable increases were seen in popular holiday destinations, including Dorset (+29% YoY), Cornwall (+24% YoY), and Devon (+13% YoY).

Additionally, restaurant spending saw a +5.6% YoY increase over the Early May Bank Holiday, especially in areas with higher lodging spending (Dorset +33% YoY, Cornwall +9% YoY, and Devon +11% YOY), indicating that holidaymakers – and local residents – are making the most of the additional time off work to eat out.

Spending on lodging in London increased by +11% compared to 2023, with restaurant spend also slightly up (+1.5% YoY) on last year. It’s likely that some of this spending came from overseas visitors, with Mastercard’s Travel Trends 2024: Breaking Boundaries report showing that around 17% of tourism spend in the UK is on experiences. 

For those not travelling, it was time to take the staycation to a new level with a spring home makeover

SpendingPulse data shows that many people used their bank holiday to spend time on home improvements - there was a +3% rise in home improvement overall, with a 10% uplift in spending on home furniture and furnishings. 

Spring makeover hotspots include Devon, where there was a 25% increase in spending on home furniture and furnishings, and 17% in Cornwall.

Natalia Lechmanova, Chief Economist Europe, Mastercard Economics Institute, comments: “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.”

Media Contacts

Niall Walsh, Mastercard
+447827820816 |

About Mastercard SpendingPulse

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reports on national retail sales across all payment types in select markets around the world. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and cheque. As such, SpendingPulse™ insights do not in any way contain, reflect or relate to actual Mastercard operational or financial performance, or specific payment-card-issuer data

About Mastercard (UK)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.