A third of people planning trips abroad this year will take a self-catering holiday, according to research for the annual Post Office Travel Money Self-Catering Holiday Report1, (www.postoffice.co.uk/selfcateringhols) produced in partnership with leading holiday company Monarch Holidays. More than two-in-five (42 per cent) of families told the Post Office they chose their most recent self-catering holiday to cut costs, so the report suggests heading to the Spanish Islands or Portugal’s Algarve because supermarket prices are up to 84 per cent lower than in destinations further east2.

This advice comes after the consumer research also revealed that over half of families bust their budget on their last self-catering holiday – with one-in-six admitting they spent over £200 more than planned3. Post Office Travel Money and Monarch Holidays surveyed the cost of a weekly family shop in 10 European destinations and found big differences for 15 typical food and drink staples. 

The cheapest destination proved to be Majorca where the shopping basket of self-catering basics came to £31.91 – five per cent less than in the Algarve (£33.65), runner-up in the survey. In sharp contrast, Monarch Holidays resort staff discovered that the same shopping basket cost 84 per cent more (£58.74) in Dubrovnik, the most expensive destination surveyed.   Supermarkets in Eastern Med resorts were also between 31-40 per cent pricier than Majorca.

With a fall of 6.1 per cent, Majorca was one of four destinations where supermarket prices were found to have dropped year-on-year – despite the fact that sterling buys around 10 per cent fewer euros than last June.  The biggest fall of 20 per cent was in Menorca (£35.03, 4th cheapest in the survey), while prices fell 3.7 per cent in Lanzarote (3rd, £34.41) – making the Spanish Islands great value for self-caterers.

The fourth destination where grocery prices have fallen over the past twelve months is Cyprus, which registered a 6.2 per cent drop. At £44.29, the shopping basket in Cyprus is at its lowest level since Post Office Travel Money started compiling the self-catering report in 2011.  Prices are now 39 per cent cheaper for UK tourists than five years ago when the same items cost £72.48.  In fact, the Post Office and Monarch found that prices have plummeted in all eight destinations that were also surveyed in 2012.  Aside from Cyprus, the falls ranged between nine per cent in the Costa Blanca and 32 per cent in Lanzarote.

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: “It’s good to report that the cost of self-catering groceries has fallen in parts of Europe despite the fall in sterling’s value since last year.  However, the wide variations we found across the 10 destinations surveyed mean families should do their homework and check prices before booking.  Majorca and Portugal are great value for self-catering but Turkey, Greece and Croatia will be more expensive.

“Although self-catering can be a great way to save money, spending can easily get out of hand. Just over half of the holidaymakers we spoke to shopped in supermarkets but almost as many used local mini-marts, which are significantly more expensive4.  Our advice is to do one big supermarket shop and choose cheaper local brands.  Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in local markets and only use mini-marts to top up supplies. If you are plan to eat out during your stay, make it a lunch time set meal, a cheaper bet than eating a la carte in the evening.

“Another way for families to avoid busting their budget is to steer clear of changing cash at the airport or at overseas ATMs where poor rates and charges will cost them dear.  Planning ahead and loading the holiday budget onto a pre-paid card like the Post Office Travel Money Card is a great way to keep costs in check.”

Aside from the opportunity offered to cut the holiday budget, half of parents surveyed by the Post Office thought that self-catering gave them a greater degree of flexibility, while over a third (35 per cent) thought it a more family friendly option and one-in-ten (11 per cent) said it was the only practical solution when travelling with older children.

Gary Anslow, Sales Director Monarch Holidays commented: “Self-catering continues to offer great value for money.  The most frequent request to our exclusive Monarch Holidays’ Concierge service, after the best beaches to visit, is for information on the best value supermarkets in the area, so we know holidaymakers want to make the pound in their pocket stretch as far as possible.

“Self-catering is certainly growing in popularity and is now nearly a quarter of all sales. In certain regions, such as the Algarve, where our customers have access to a vast range of great value supermarkets and restaurants, self-catering accounts for over 40 per cent of bookings. For families in particular, self-catering allows them to control their spending more effectively and gives them the flexibility to do what they want when they want, without the restrictions of catered accommodation. Customers can enjoy the ultimate in flexibility and so it will continue to be a very popular choice.”

1 Omnibus research by Populus (31 March-2 April 2017) for Post Office Travel Money found that 70 per cent (1449) of the 2,081 UK adults surveyed will be taking a holiday abroad in 2017 – and 32 per cent (462 of the 1449 adults) will be self-catering. 42 per cent of this group said the reason they took a self-catering holiday was to cut costs.

2 Post Office Travel Money Self-Catering Holiday Report: local supermarket prices were supplied by Monarch and the sterling exchange rate on 3 June 2017 was used to find the price for UK tourists. A breakdown of costs can be found in the tables attached.

3 Post Office research by Populus (31 March-2 April 2017): 52 per cent of families overspent their self-catering holiday budget on their last trip abroad by an average of £61.60.  16 per cent overspent by over £200.

4 Post Office research by Populus (31 March-2 April 2017): Of the 677 people surveyed who have taken a self-catering holiday in the past five years, 53 per cent shopped in supermarkets while 43 per cent bought their provisions in local resort mini-marts.

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