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2019 year in numbers

From the hottest-ever day in the UK (38.7C, measured in Cambridge on July 29th)1 to the world’s longest passenger flight (direct from London to Sydney, taking around 19 and a half hours)2, 2019 has seen a whole host of records broken.

As the year comes to an end, we’ve asked property, travel and tech commentators to highlight some of the key trends and surprising facts from 2019, and consider how your money and financial plans may have been affected. Plus, they tell us what could be coming in 2020.

Travel and holidays

The pound remained volatile this year, falling sharply against other currencies at various times. For example, sterling fell to a low of €1.07 to the pound in September, based on wholesale money market exchange rates compared to €1.17 at the beginning of May3. At the start of this month, £1 was worth  €1.124.

The swings in the value of the pound meant a €500 shopping trip in Paris would have cost £467 in September, compared to £427 earlier in the year, based on the exchange rates quoted above (although foreign currency rates available from a bureau de change vary).

British travellers made 7.1 million visits overseas in July, spending £4.8bn, according to the ONS5. In 2020, 51% of travellers will “swap their original destination for a lesser known, but similar alternative if they know it’ll leave less of an environmental impact”, according to Booking.com’s annual travel report of global travellers6. BA Holidays has seen a big rise in bookings for Durban in South Africa and Palma in Spain in 2020 (although it’s most popular destination is still New York)7.

 

€1.07 
Value of the £1 against the Euro in September
£4.8bn 
The amount spent by UK travellers in July

Holiday destination swaps

"Wellness travel shows no signs of slowing down in 2020, and active holidays are also big news, such as hiking in Madeira or trekking in Colombia. As cities like Barcelona and Amsterdam reach breaking point in terms of tourist numbers, we’re also seeing an emerging ‘second city’ trend, with people opting for Utrecht over Amsterdam, or Porto instead of Lisbon."

Jenny Cahill-Jones, from Rough Guides

Jenny Cahill-Jones, from Rough Guides, says: “In 2019 we saw two big trends emerging. Firstly, a more conscious way of travelling. For example, we’ve seen more people opting for trains instead of internal flights. Alongside that, wellness travel is getting bigger and bigger – from ‘forest bathing’ to yoga retreats or planning a digital detox8.

“Wellness travel shows no signs of slowing down in 2020, and active holidays are also big news, such as hiking in Madeira or trekking in Colombia. As cities like Barcelona and Amsterdam reach breaking point in terms of tourist numbers, we’re also seeing an emerging ‘second city’ trend, with people opting for Utrecht over Amsterdam, or Porto instead of Lisbon.”

Wherever you decide to go in 2020, don’t forget that you can get travel insurance through our Travel Pack. The Travel Pack costs £12.50 per month and gives you worldwide family travel insurance and RAC comprehensive breakdown cover in the UK and Europe.

To boost your benefits, consider the Travel Plus Pack. For £18 per month, you’ll get all the cover of the Travel Pack, but with the addition of airport lounge access, parking, restaurant and hotel discounts. Terms and conditions apply.

Take a look at our last-minute travel tips for more tips on planning a stress-free getaway – from sorting your currency to staying safe from fraud.

Home and property

The UK housing market has remained broadly flat in 2019, with average house prices rising 1% or £2,429 in the 12 months to September in England, according to the ONS. Prices rose 2.6% in Wales, 2.4% in Scotland and 4% in Northern Ireland over the same period9. The Bank of England (BoE) base rate, which influences interest rates on financial products such as mortgages and savings, has remained at 0.75% for the whole year10.

Activity in the market has showed little change compared to previous years, with 101,740 residential transactions in September, 2.3% more than the same month last year11.

Existing homeowners wanting extra space have opted to renovate their properties in recent years, rather than move. In the first 3 months of 2019, £34.7bn was lent to UK households in personal loans12. For those applying a new lick of paint to their walls, the colour of 2019 was Spiced Honey according to Dulux13

£2,429 
Annual rise in average house prices in England to September 

0.75% 
Bank of England base rate

Slowdown in housing

"The fundamentals of the market remain sound, with record employment, low interest rates, good mortgage availability, and improving buyer affordability in some locations, with wage growth outstripping house price growth. These factors and the need for housing through different life-stages have helped to mitigate against the negative backdrop of political uncertainty."

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst

Whether you’re planning to buy a new property, move home or remortgage next year, we can help. Find out more about Premier mortgages.

Technology and gadgets

Data protection and cyber security continued to be a key story in 2019. There was a 5% rise in mortgage application fraud in the first six months of the year, although cases of identity fraud fell by a quarter, according to Cifas, the fraud agency14. Learn more about keeping your data safe.

Advances in technology and increasingly sophisticated gadgets have continued to emerge over 2019. This year saw the launch of 5G mobile networks, which promise faster and more reliable connections to both mobiles and other internet-enabled devices compared to 4G.

Although speeds will vary, an indication of download speeds shows that it’s possible to download a high definition film in 10 – 40 seconds on a typical 5G network, with peak data rates of 20GBs, 20 times faster than existing 4G mobile networks15.

Andy Boxall, from Digital Trends, a technology website, says: “Consumers have flocked to voice-activated smart speakers in 2019, which are often cheap, useful and fun. We’ve also seen a rise in demand for smart home devices, such as smart lightbulbs and thermostats that can be controlled by voice-activated speakers, as well as from your mobile." 

5% 
Rise in mortgage application fraud in H1 2019

10 – 40 sec
Time to download a HD film on 5G

Stay connected

"Next year, as 5G starts to becomes more commonplace and affordable, we should begin to properly understand the real consumer benefits of everything being connected."

Andy Boxall, from Digital Trends

“Next year, as 5G starts to becomes more commonplace and affordable, we should begin to properly understand the real consumer benefits of everything being connected.”

Whatever mobile device you’ve been using in 2019, you can check your current account balance, send money and earn Cashback using the Barclays app16.

You can also see where your money’s going, managing your spending by category to see exactly what you’ve spent and where17. Just tap ‘Spending’ in your app. And you can now choose to see current account balances and transactions from other banks18 in your Barclays app.

Find out more about the Barclays app