How to invest in a recession - staycations and drinking at home will become trendy again if there's a downturn

Annabelle Williams
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Drinking at home, cheap entertainment and staycations become the norm in downturns (Source: Getty)

One month on from the Brexit vote and the UK economy seems in a precarious state. Economic activity is slowing, and economists have warned there’s a risk of a recession this year. The out vote has, in the International Monetary Fund’s words, put a spanner in the works.

The value of the pound has fallen too, and it’s now worth 15 per cent less versus the dollar than a year ago and 16 per cent less against the euro. Inflation is likely to rise, and wage growth will also be slow in this kind of environment.

Read more: Five things you should know about Brexit and your finances

All this could mean the return of two classic trends which appear during a downturn: holidaying in the UK and buying little luxuries, typically of the local or home grown variety.

“How the UK consumer will react to the weaker purchasing power of their pound overseas is unclear. If we see the return of the staycation and a move to buy British, then the UK economy should benefit,” says Andrew Birt, head of research at advice and investment company Saunderson House.

Travel companies will be the first casualties. Most holidays for summer 2016 will already have been booked and paid for, but one in ten people are expected to opt for a UK holiday over going abroad for their next break according to research from

“It appears as though the vote to leave the EU has also dented the UK’s financial confidence,” says Gemma Sonfield, head of travel at the price comparison website. “The reluctance of Brits to jet off to Europe this summer may be, in part, triggered by a sense of greater financial instability.”

This adds to the woes of tour companies which have already struggled with terrorism putting holidaymakers off visiting tourist hotspots.

Read more: Brexit gold rush - experts tip gold to hit $1,400

TUI Group, the tour company behind Thomson, has had a near 25 per cent fall in its share price this year.

“It’s not surprising that travel companies like TUI are likely to take a sizeable hit from Brexit. But the true impact won’t be clear for the next six months,” says Simon McGarry, senior equity analyst at Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management.

During bad times, people start thinking of cheaper ways to enjoy themselves and, interestingly, shares in Merlin Entertainments, owner of theme parks Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Legoland and Madam Tussauds, are one of the few leisure companies which are priced higher than before the vote.

Read more: Is a weaker pound such a bad thing?

Unsurprisingly, booze companies and off licences also tend to do particularly well in uncertain times.

This bodes well for drinks company AB InBev which owns 10 of the world’s most drunk beers and is an extremely reliable and well-run company, says Mark Nichols, portfolio manager of the Threadneedle European Select fund.

Conviviality, which sells alcohol and confectionary wholesale to smaller outlets, is one company which may experience increased demand as people spend more on shop-bought booze instead of a night in the pub, says McGarry.

He also highlights comfort eating as another trend which becomes more prominent pick-up during recessions. “Through economic uncertainty people are more likely to trade down and order in than they are to go out for dinner. That’s why stocks like Domino’s Pizza Group and Just Eat appear well poised to continue their recent stellar growth track records,” McGarry says.

Read more: Four UK stocks for your portfolio

Shares in Domino’s Pizza are up 42 per cent over the last year, while Just Eat has risen 27 per cent in the last six months.

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