As a degree of normality starts to return to everyday life, the holiday home market is still waiting for confirmation as to when holiday parks can officially reopen. Since the government placed the UK into lockdown on March 23, there has been very little activity in the market. Production halted as most manufacturers furloughed staff making the industry’s traditional busiest period of the year the quietest.
At the time of writing, the Government has given no official date for parks to reopen to the public but indications are it will be July 4. However, this date has been left hanging for weeks with no confirmation. This continues to cause frustration within the industry, with parks desperate to open to attempt salvaging some business and most importantly – to gauge the future of the market. On a positive note, operations with a dedicated sales area or showroom were permitted to open their sales function on June 1, but many have chosen to wait until sites can fully reopen to begin trading.
Despite the lack of business since March, there remains positive sentiment in the market. The aviation industry has been badly affected by Covid-19. Flying is simply not an option for many people due to the higher risk of infection, compounded by travel restrictions currently in place across many countries. The logical alternative for UK holidaymakers is a ‘staycation’, which has been growing in popularity in recent years.
Feedback that Glass’s editorial team have received suggests that there is already increased demand from customers old and new. With the ’staycation’ high on the list of priorities for many holidaymakers, there is confidence that this level of demand will sustain until at least summer 2021. Perhaps even further into the future should we experience subsequent spikes of Coronavirus infections. A good indication of what is to come is to look at our European neighbours. As they were a few weeks ahead of us with the easing of their lockdowns, their leisure market has reopened, along with their parks and demand is strong for ‘staycations’.
When holiday parks reopen they can resume taking bookings as well as attempting to retain bookings already placed, with many park entertainment and hospitality facilities currently having to remain closed to holidaymakers, high cancellations might be received. Once open, they can also make key decisions on whether to hold onto existing rental stock or replace with new units.
The volume of hire fleet units produced this year will be lower than usual due to the production shutdown. With strong booking rates forecast to continue for the rest of the season, the hire fleet units produced will be in high demand. The knock-on effect is that there is likely to be less de-fleeted rental units hitting the used market, adding to stock shortages already present prior to lockdown.
With production halted for such a long period, availability will be low for all types of new stock. The over-production of units in recent years has hampered the new market but this will not be an issue for 2021. Larger manufacturers look set to build to order instead of building to capacity, and are not making any model changes.
It is a unique time for the market, and despite the difficulties throughout lockdown, there is reason to believe that the market could strengthen and grow.