Spring has sprung, and with it comes the annual need for a home refresh inside and out as consumers purge and repair. Yet, at the same time, after more than a year of coronavirus lockdowns, people are thinking about traveling again, and are budgeting money for trips in the coming months in a release of pent-up demand.
These dueling demands for wallet share could pose a challenge for home-focused retailers, which have performed well during the pandemic, partly because homebound shoppers had few other places to spend.
That’s now changing as vaccines roll out and consumers feel safer going on vacation.
“Leisure travel is picking up, and there does seem to be a lot of evidence that people are, once vaccinated, willing to get on planes,” says Barbara Kahn, Patty and Jay H. Baker professor of marketing at the Wharton School. “They’re tip-toeing to spending money in other ways and their wallet is constrained.”
Booking sites like Tripadvisor have said they are seeing increased visits as consumers begin to plan trips. At the same time, other travel brands such as Hotels.com are boosting marketing with a “book now, cancel later” message, in case some are still a little hesitant to plan. Many hotels in New York City are preparing for a “spring awakening,” Crain’s New York Business found, following the April 1 end to a quarantine rule for some travelers. At the same time, consumers are beginning to invest in back-to-work wardrobes as they contemplate a future that doesn’t include the daily donning of sweatpants.