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Wet winter prompts Virgin Money customers to prioritise nights in and holiday bookings

A wet and mild winter heavily influenced consumer spending habits according to the latest Virgin Money current account lifestyle spending data1.

According to the new analysis, Virgin Money customers spent a total of £667m across lifestyle categories between December 2023 and February 2024, an increase of 5.5% compared to the same period last year, while total number of transactions rose 3.4%. Lifestyle categories include holidays, UK stays, eating out, style, wellbeing, keeping fit, memberships and subscriptions and entertainment.

Looking at quarterly spend trends, total lifestyle spend decreased in winter by a marginal 0.8% (£5.88m), compared to autumn. However, while most of the lifestyle categories saw a decline in spend, holidays and wellbeing both increased quarter on quarter, up by £14.1m and £0.3m, respectively.

Continued pent-up demand for holidays

Holidays were top of the list for Virgin Money customers, reflecting a desire to escape the UK’s wet winter and book a future trip in sunnier climes. Holiday transactions increased 26% to 380k compared to 300k in winter 2022/23 and holiday spend increased 22% year on year, rising to £106.7m from £87m. When comparing month on month, the total spent on holidays almost doubled in January 2024, rising 82% to £42.4m, up from £23.2m in December 2023. Spending in February also remained high at £41m, as customers capitalised on New Year deals. Travel agents and tour operators secured the biggest share of holiday sales, with 69% of the total money spent on trips away by Virgin Money customers with companies such as TUI, Jet2, Hays Travel, EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic. This suggests that package holidays were the preferred choice for customers over booking travel and accommodation separately.

In fact, recent research2 from EasyJet found all inclusive, seven-night breaks were in highest demand during the first week of their winter sale. Tenerife, Lanzarote and Hurghada led the way for beach breaks and Paris, Amsterdam and Iceland proved most popular for city escapes, which account for stays of three to five nights.

Takeaways dominate over dining out

In other categories, sales across the food and drink sector remained positive, with eating out -takeaways, restaurants, cafes, pubs, bakeries, fast food restaurants, coffee shops and food/drink purchased at concerts - seeing the biggest total spend of all the lifestyle categories in winter, with a rise of 6% year on year to £264m.

However, takeaways were the clear favourite for Virgin Money customers, accounting for 60%3 of this spend, compared to 8% spent in pubs and restaurants, with strong demand for Just Eat, Deliveroo, Domino’s Pizza and Uber Eats3. This alongside the Met Office’s recent report that the UK experienced six storms between December 2023 and January 20244 and the warmest but wettest February on record5, indicates more people chose to enjoy a night in with friends and family over a night out this winter.

Wellbeing and style.

Spend on wellbeing also increased by 5% to £34m, but the new year health kick remained steady, with spend on keeping fit, which includes sports club memberships and purchases for sporting goods and apparel, reducing by a marginal 0.8% to £40.5m.

Customers spent less on style and staying away this winter compared to last year. Spend on style has seen a slight decline of 2%, to £119.5m, and staying away dropped by 5% to £41.4m. This suggests people are carefully considering where and what they spend their money on, choosing to invest their hard-earned cash on longer holidays and trips overseas, over staycations and short-term trips in the UK.

Graeme Sands, head of personal banking at Virgin Money, said: “It’s great to see our customers are balancing their lifestyle spend so they can continue to invest in activities that allow them to make memories and share exciting experiences with friends and family. Whether that’s with a holiday of a lifetime, a quick break overseas or a night in with loved ones.

“With rising costs still impacting household bills and essential purchases, we understand that times can be hard for many. Driven by our purpose of making you happier about money, at Virgin Money we are here to help people manage their finances in a way that works best for them. By providing a range of straightforward and rewarding products alongside money management tools and advice, we aim to help our customers make the most of their money and keep on top of their spending, so they can continue to enjoy the little things in life while taking care of the bigger things.”

The Virgin Money mobile banking app is packed full of clever tools to help customers budget, top up savings and track their transactions to help people feel in control of their money. Virgin Money also offers a wide range of savings products to help customers make their money work for them.

About the research

1Customer spend data sourced from Virgin Money current account customers who have actively spent in one or more of the lifestyle categories between 1 December 2023 and 29 February 2024. Lifestyle categories include eating out, holidays, style, wellbeing, entertainment, keeping fit, staying away, and memberships and subscriptions.


2EasyJet top travel trends for 2024 Top travel trends for 2024 (

3Data taken from Virgin Money current account customers who have actively spent on eating out between 1 December 2023 and 29 February 2024 using a sample size of the top 50 retailers.

4Met Office data published January 2024: Why have there been so many storms in the UK this year? | Official blog of the Met Office news team

5Met office data published March 2024: Warmest February on record for England and Wales - Met Office