What would happen if the Easter bank holiday never existed?

The Easter holiday is a joyful period for many of us in the UK. With children off school for the Easter break and a long weekend in the midst of spring for most, as a consequence of the additions of two bank holidays, Good Friday and Easter Monday. For many, it will be a religious celebration to remember Jesus Christ, for others, a chance to catch up on some overdue chores and DIY. But for the majority, it’s a time to get together, relax, rejuvenate and enjoy some well-deserved treasured time with one another.

The History of the Easter holiday and how long it’s been celebrated?

Easter has long been proclaimed as one of the most important celebrations in the Christian calendar for it being synonymous with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the spiritual leader of Christianity, in which he redeemed everyone from their sins. However, in more modern times this religious celebration intertwined with the Pagan origin of Easter and became the Easter holiday we are familiar with today – symbolised by bunny’s, chocolate eggs and daffodils. This holiday transformed into the long bank holiday weekend we know and love due to the Bank Holidays act of 1871, marking Good Friday and Easter Monday as official bank holidays within the UK.

What effect would removing two bank holidays have on UK businesses and the economy as a whole?

It’s hard to measure the impact of what the removal of a bank holiday could have on an economy due to the difficulty of estimating the size of the economy in advance and a lack of numerical evidence pointing towards how many businesses actually close. What can be estimated is that while certain sectors such as hospitality, leisure and tourism, and even in retail, would thrive, other sectors such as manufacturing and construction would lose out. It’s a tricky balancing act but there are certainly many pros and cons to having bank holidays.

The downside of having a bank holiday on the UK economy

Your first thought probably is less work equals less money. And you would be right! According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), a study in 2012 found that each bank holiday costs the UK economy £2.3bn. The key monetised cost would be the loss of output due to business closure during the two Easter bank holidays.

Further costs could be incurred along the way for businesses that need to disperse such information along with other administration costs. What if we scrapped bank holidays as a whole? An argument was put forward by economists suggesting that the removal of all UK bank holidays would boost the country’s economy by as much as £19bn/year, which in hindsight sounds incredibly beneficial but there are other factors at play here which may indicate why this would only apply on paper.

The benefits of having a bank holiday on UK business

As a business owner, you may not see the benefits of the bank holiday because it generally indicates a dip in revenue. However, it’s not all gloom and doom! For instance, productivity could see an enhancement due to an improvement in the happiness and work-life balance of employees. In recent times on the back of the pandemic, the idea of working a four day week consistently (not just because of a bank holiday) has seen extra traction and many countries, such as Iceland, who have begun trialling them, have seen staggering success, with companies capable of achieving the same level of output and employee pay remaining unchanged.

In addition to this, as a collective, the UK would save time but also energy. In 2019, Microsoft Japan announced electricity consumption reduced by 23.1% and the number of pages printed decreased by 58.7%. This is a significant drop in electrical usage, nearly a quarter, and being able to promote your business by reducing the mark it leaves on the environment will do wonders for your company message and appeal in this fast-paced, ever-growing world where being eco-friendly is at the forefront of people’s minds.

How much is Easter worth to the UK economy?

The Easter period has its own way of generating for the UK economy on the bank holiday weekend. 38.0% of UK consumers stated that they expect to spend more on Easter this year compared to 2019. This may be because the two Easter holidays following 2019 were during the pandemic period and now that we’re living in post-pandemic times, the feeling of spending more time with loved ones is regarded more highly.

Whatever the reason may be, UK easter spending is forecasted to reach £1.7bn this year, an increase of 4.2% on last year. The main driving force behind this growth will be owed to food and drink.  We recently analysed the effect that Easter eggs have on the economy and found that 80 million chocolate eggs are sold at Easter, equating to 10% of the annual chocolate spend in the UK. It is evident that Easter eggs alone have a significant impact on the economy, let alone the impact Easter as a holiday has on other commercial sectors such as travel and tourism, with many people booking getaways in hotels and lodges across the UK over the Easter break.