Jeremy Warner's Outlook: 'Hi-De-Hi' economics grips the nation

Not so much "lipstick economics" as "Hi-De-Hi economics". The idea of lipstick economics comes from Leonard Lauder, who noticed post the terrorist attacks of 9/11 that his companies were selling a lot more lipstick. When the economy turns sour, observed the chairman of Estée Lauder, people spurn big ticket spending but try to boost their mood with little comfort purchases that might make them feel good about themselves.

Now we've got our very own version of the phenomenon. Pontin's, the holiday parks group recently acquired by private equity, yesterday announced that bookings for the rest of the summer are up 10 per cent year on year.

A similar story is told by the discount hotel chains Travelodge and Premier Inns. Both are investing heavily in seaside resorts to take advantage of buoyant demand. UK holiday breaks were apparently up 13 per cent in the first quarter of this year. I'm not sure where Travelodge gets the statistic that 30 per cent of Brits are turning away from foreign holidays this year, since all the main overseas tour operators report strong demand too, but the point is well made.

It's not just Gordon Brown (holidaying in Southwold) and David Cameron (Cornwall). The weak pound is forcing us back in our hundreds of thousands to the traditional British holiday.

Nor is it just the British weather that provides the pull. Pontin's boasts three new acts to entertain its guests – singer James Stone, comedian Craig Harper and dance act Vizage. Just in case you were wondering "who they?", all were finalists on Britain's Got Talent.

Travelodge and Premier Inns are in addition benefiting from the parallel phenomenon of a more parsimonious business market. Occupancy is surging as business travellers trade down from more expensive Hiltons and Holiday Inns. Alan Parker, chief executive of Whitbread, which owns Premier Inns, reckons the process has a long way to go. He's aiming to expand room capacity by 50 per cent over a five-year period.

The expansion programme for Costa Coffee, also owned by Whitbread, is even more ambitious. Here the aim is to double the number of outlets to 2,000. Is the cappuccino really recession proof? Whitbread's plans will be the true test of whether there is any such thing as lipstick economics.

Personally I would have thought overpriced coffee served out of a cardboard cup with a baby-friendly lid for sipping through would be one of the first things to go when the grim reality of enforced belt tightening hits home. We'll see. For the time being, sales are just fine.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there