Why the 2009 ‘staycation’ will save high street home shops

Home is where the holiday is, says Annie Deakin who discovers IKEA, John Lewis and The Conran Shop’s summer campaigns
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The Independent Online

Air travel is guilt-ridden, the pound is weak and the global recession shows no sign of abating. It’s all about the "staycation" this year; a growing number of Brits are forfeiting trips abroad and deciding to holiday at home. High street brands like IKEA, John Lewis and The Conran Shop are wise to capitalise on this trend which will help them tackle the crunch. The slumping travel industry has offered home brands and retailers a big opportunity.

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The latest summer campaign from John Lewis clearly targets shoppers planning to holiday in the UK. Previous years saw the John Lewis fashion team flit off to Barbados with suitcases full of bikinis and bronzing oil. In 2009, the destination was Brighton and the outfits made up of Hunter wellington boots, bikinis and cardigans, rather than the customary kaftans and flip flops.

Similarly, Cath Kidston shot their summer photo shoots at Holkham Beach in Norfolk asking shoppers to "make the most of the British summer - and countryside". Peter Ruis, the John Lewis Fashion Buying Director said, "This season, we included a number of items in our summer collections specifically to work for holidays at home in the UK."

The ‘"staycation" trend is proving to be a very welcome marketing demon.

Infamous for their clever ad strategies, IKEA has aimed it’s summer’s promotion at the rising number of Brits staying on the mainland for their holidays; "Grab a deckchair and soak up our home-grown sun. Have that dinner party that you’ve been meaning to throw for the last few months. Get your friends over for a good catch-up. Transform your living room into a cinema. Deck your dining room out with some new crockery and turn it into your own five star restaurant." The shop is brazenly using the "staycation’" phenomenon to push their wares; their messaging is clear. Invest some of the money that you save by not going abroad in decorating your home. Change your textiles, upgrade your sitting room and give your garden that holiday resort look.

Quintessentially British brand Laura Ashley is also reaping the rewards with fun bunting, picnic hampers and lanterns that introduce holiday atmosphere into the home.

By an inopportune twist of fate, The Conran Shop followed the identical wording as IKEA: "Holiday at Home". Seamstress Sally Walton sewed patterned vintage fabric together to make banners reading the message "Holiday at home" for The Conran Shop stores. It conjures up nostalgic lazy days of Mr Whippy ice creams and donkey rides on British beaches.

"Create your holiday at home", "Get summer started in style", screams the garden section of The Conran Shop website. Why fly first class to an expensive resort when you can create holiday-style on your doorstep? The Conran Shop’s stripy sun lounger, 1920s-style badminton set, boho lanterns and shady lace parasol will last a darn site longer than any suntan.

This summer, all eyes are on Paolo Navone, who designs for Armani Casa, Alessi and Swarovski, and has created the sought after zinc plated iron Weekend Chair. "Britons are choosing to enjoy time at home and in their gardens instead of forking out on holidays abroad," confirmed Euan Sutherland, chief executive of B&Q, who has noted that sales of their outdoor products are up 30 per cent for the quarter to 2 June.

The global recession may have suppressed our readiness to spend with abandon but it hasn’t culled our creativity. Brits would rather surrender their trips abroad and spend on their garden and living room - which is only good news for interior and garden retailers. As IKEA sang in its summer campaign, "Staying at home is the new going abroad - without the whopping hotel bill at the end."

Annie Deakin is Editor of mydeco.com