The school holidays have arrived, Parliament is in recess until 5 September and London has wound down to slumber away the summer months. Or has it? Just how much effect do the summer holidays have on London businesses? Well, in truth, London is such a culturally rich and diverse city that the effects of holidays vary from business to business. However there are a few common themes such as:
Whilst Transport for London and the Mayor’s office are constantly working on schemes to reduce congestion caused by the school run, in term time our roads, buses and tubes are affected by school transport. In the school holidays this congestion is noticeably less on some routes. This means that businesses which rely on transport and deliveries may have to work to a different schedule in term and holiday time with the reduced travel time in the holidays resulting in cost savings.
Pubs, restaurants & cafes
Places to eat in London tend to be divided between those serving a local population and those catering for tourists or business people. Each of these sectors is affected differently by summer holidays. Those catering for business are most affected by holidays due to the combined affects of business people taking time off to be with children alongside a reduction in business meetings.
Looking at places catering for tourists, there were 26.2 million staying visitors in London in 2010 with total London tourism receipts amounting to £11.2 billion. International visitors tended to stay for 6.1 days spending £593 whilst those visiting from within the UK stayed for 2.1 days spending £217. Overseas tourism tends to be slightly skewed to the summer with 29% staying in July & August and this taken alongside domestic tourists helps to take up some of the slack from Londoners moving out of the capital in the summer months.
When it comes to local eateries these seem to be as much affected by the weather as the holidays. The Coffer Peach Business Tracker makes some interesting observations in its review of the Easter Holidays. Alongside the comment that “Our research across the year highlights the big positive effect that school holidays are having on trade, particularly with people staying in the UK” it notes that the weather also plays its part. Hot days tend to favour pubs or staying at home with a barbeque whilst wet days favour indoor attractions and visits to restaurants.
Companies offering business services from printing to marketing, office fitments to consultancy tend to factor August into their business plans as a dead month. The combination of warmer weather and staff holidays leads to decisions being postponed or even not considered until September arrives. “Starting in September” and “I’ll get back to you in September” are common themes. Even networking tends to slow down with many business networks not bothering to hold August meetings.
The “Back to School” effect
Sell children’s clothing or stationery and August can prove to be the busiest month of the year. Although pencils can be bought at any time the temptation to start a new school year with a fresh set is overwhelming. Trousers and skirts that just lasted the summer term need replacing and winter shoes are on the list in anticipation of bad weather to come. Even the major London department stores are in on the act with some already having unveiled their Christmas displays designed to attract the summer tourist.