December 19, 2008

A stay-at-home holiday expected in Britain

The economic downturn is pushing a growing number of British businesses to close their doors for an extended holiday, a business trade group said.

The Federation of Small Businesses told the Times of London that more members than ever had plans to stay closed between Dec. 22 and Jan. 5.

As many as 500,000 businesses could close through the holidays, because of the financial situation, a federation official said.

Tens of thousands of workers will be free to travel, but road travel is expected to slow this holiday season, The Times said.

An Automobile Association survey found 20 percent of those who traveled by car over the holidays a year ago indicated they would stay home this year.

British train services expect 22 million passengers for the Christmas holiday weekend, but could see smoother traveling than last year, when engineering work caused major delays.

The Association of Train Operating Companies said there would be much, much less construction work attempted over the holiday period this year. Fewer people will be disrupted this year, an organization official said.

Travel agency association ABTA, said two million Britons were expected to fly to foreign destinations over the Christmas weekend.