Where have all the caravanners gone?

June 20, 2008 | By | In Statistics

Soaring fuel bills means shorter holidays, or they stay at home.

Caravans, love ‘em or hate ‘em, are disappearing from UK roads.

The first signs of warm weather and the arrival of June has, in years past, seen many of the UK’s 2 million caravanners take to the highways.

But now many are travelling less or simply staying at home because they can’t afford petrol and diesel prices which have risen by almost a third within a year.

‘Caravanners are feeling under siege at present,’ says Nigel Donnelly, editor of Practical Caravan magazine. ‘Readers have contacted us saying that they may give up their caravans because they are becoming too expensive.’

The RAC, meanwhile, says its patrols report fewer callouts to stranded caravans than they’d expect at this time of the year. Feedback from its patrols suggests that caravans are travelling fewer miles. ‘Where once someone from Scotland would head for the South of England,’ said Vicki Burn from the RAC, ‘they’ll now travel only as far as the North of England.

However, the Caravan Club, which has a million members, said it hadn’t seen any drop in its membership or in booking at its 200 sites. ‘If people book a holiday, they have decided to swallow the extra cost and take it anyway,’ said the club’s Fiona Bewers. ‘After all, caravan holidays represent incredible value for money.’ Even so, sales of new and used caravans are slow, and one major manufacturer has laid off staff and put others on short-time working in an attempt to cope with a slump in demand.

All the signs are that higher fuel prices – which rose by a further 5p average this week – are cutting the miles that we as a nation drive.

Even before last week’s industrial action and supply shortages, petrol retailers report a 20% fall in volume sales over the last year. What’s more, drivers are going easy on the throttle.

Keepmoving.co.uk, a traffic information that monitors traffic speed via 230,000 sensors fitted to vehicles, says speed recorded in free-flowing traffic on the M6 fell this month by a mile-per-hour or two.

And it appears that company car drivers are travelling less. GE Capital Solutions Fleet Services, one of the UK’s largest leasing and fleet management companies, said home working was rocketing in popularity. Managing director Rich Green said: ‘employers are struggling to keep on top of fuel price rises and one of the best solutions open to them is simply to tell company car drivers to stay at home more often.’

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