The American Automobile Association predicts that families will be staying closer to or at home on and around the Fourth of July this year. Usually a peak travel week on the annual calendar, rising fuel costs and decreasing discretionary income is expected to have a dampening effect on travel plans. Still, 37.1M Americans are expected to drive 50 miles or more – a decrease of 1.9% from 2008.
The depression in July 4th travel goes even deeper – the drop-off between 2008 and 2007 was even more severe. The 37.8M that traveled in 2008 was off 10.5% from the 42.3M that traveled in 2007. A lot of that was due to the extremely high gas prices that ruled the summer last year.
“Many Americans remain cautious about the outlook for their personal finances and these attitudes are reflected in the slight decline in travel we are forecasting for the upcoming holiday weekend,” said Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA President & CEO. “Those who do vacation this summer will find a plethora of attractive discounts and special offers resulting in some outstanding vacation values. If you can afford to go, this summer is a smart time to travel.”
Airplanes are said to be the choice of only about 5% of July 4th travelers, but they are expected to enjoy a 4.9% increase in usage this year, thanks to low fares and “pent up demand” from consumers who have been putting off such a vacation. Air travel also dipped severely from 2007 to 2008. About 2M are expected to pass through airports this time around.
RBR/TVBR observation: People who don’t have to budget for lodging and meals on the road often can instead afford to live it up in their own market. For example, a family that skips a $500 hotel bill may want to go to a $150 restaurant close to home. This is a prime time to get food and entertainment businesses in your area to focus on marketing their wares to stay-at-homes.