UK Vacation Rental Recovery in 5 Charts

From international travel embargoes and Brits confined to their homes, things have varied from unpredictable to flat in UK short term rental markets. So what’s the story with London STR reservations now? How is the UK vacation rental industry performing relative to Europe?

We’ve aggregated 2020 reservations up to the start of June against the same period in 2019 and analysed the numbers to build 5 charts. The insights will first take you through year-to-date reservations to get a sense of overall impact and reservations made week by week to highlight the progression and inflection, before looking at recovery since inflection. Our final charts will analyse the current state of UK vacation rentals, both regionally and within the context of Europe.

Impact to UK short term rentals

Our first analysis looks at the difference between UK short term rental reservations made in 2020 so far, and reservations made in the same period of 2019. We have broken the % differences down by NUTS2 regions to understand how different areas of Britain have felt the impact overall.

The map above allows you to zoom and scroll to areas such as East Anglia, a notably impacted area that is still 42% below its reservation total for the same 2019 period. London is, perhaps predictably, doing much better. East London in particular is currently suffering only a 16% reduction on last year.

Progression and inflection in UK short term rentals

Next we explore how this impact has developed week on week. This helps to build a picture of where the impact was at its most severe, as well as pinpoint the inflection and start to understand how we’ve recovered.
Our second chart shows the year on year % difference in reservations made each week. The green line shows 2020 reservations relative to the 0% line representing 2019 reservations in that same week.

The year started strong, with weeks 2-3 showing a 59% increase on 2019. By week 6 however, international travel had begun to taste some impact, and so 2020 reservations made their way closer to 2019 levels (11%). The United Kingdom saw 85% of its vacation rental bookings come from British (domestic) guests in 2019, and so maintained reasonable levels of reservations until week 10 (-13%) where domestic travel restrictions were first introduced, and bookings crashed to 64% below 2019 levels by week 11.
Bookings continued to tumble until week 14/15 where we saw a climb likely related to the Easter weekend. A further crash was seen in the aftermath of this, to the UK’s low of -97% in week 17, as Airbnb banned new reservations in UK listings on 9 April.

Since then, reservations have been mostly climbing to -86% in week 22 – the beginning of June. As restrictions continue to lift across the country we expect to see this figure rising. So how has the recovery looked since inflection?

Recovery of UK short term rentals

As we saw in the last graph, week 17 reflects the low point for UK reservations with with the equivalent of only 3% of 2019 reservations made in that same week.
The following chart reflects percentage change in bookings made relative to the week 17 -97% low.

Whilst there was a huge spike to over 1600% more bookings in week 20 than week 17, as the ban on overnight stays in the UK lengthened, we saw a return to lower levels in week 21. We come to rest at a quietly optimistic 437% growth in booking since the low-point in week 22, the beginning of June – hopefully a precursor for further progress through June and the summer months.

Current state of UK short term rentals

Our first chart analysing the current situation in the UK industry looks at the UK position within Europe.

With the UK suggested to be 2 or 3 weeks behind the COVID-19 progression curve of the majority of Europe, it is unsurprising that it sits visibly behind most of its fellow European countries with around 80% fewer reservations than week 22 of 2019. However, Italy and Spain are not currently performing much better than Britain. With France and Germany furthest along, and their numbers sitting around a more favourable -55% and -65% respectively, there is again foreshadowing of further improvement over coming weeks.

Our final chart looks at where each UK region is relative to its performance in the same week last year.

With UK borders still closed, we can see that Cornwall, followed by other markets in the South West is performing best. This is likely a reflection of these regions having the strongest contingent of domestic ‘leisure’ guests. The majority of other regions sit around 85% fewer bookings than this point last year, with East Wales and South Yorkshire currently suffering worst with over 90% fewer reservations year on year.

So the picture is not yet rosy, but it is becoming more so. We will update this article with fresh data shortly, so be sure to return!

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