The great Christmas getaway

By Jonathan Prynn and Dick Murray, Evening Standard

Last updated at 09:12 17 December 2004

London's longest-ever Christmas getaway kicks off today.

The end of the school term is expected to trigger the first wave of holiday departures this weekend and the exodus is forecast to gather pace next week.

With many offices not expecting to return to normal until 10 January, a record drop in economic output is predicted.

According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, London's productivity could dip by £3.6billion - equivalent to about £1,000 for every worker and about 25 per cent more than usual.

Dan Bridgett of the London Chamber of Commerce said:'Because of the way the dates fall this year you will see a growing number of people leave work this weekend.

The majority of this is holiday time to which employees are entitled, but it will have a detrimental impact because firms find their clients aren't at their desks or their customers aren't in town.

But for thousands of bankers and traders in the City, an early start to the festivities has been ruled out after another tough year.

One City figure said: 'A lot of people are holding on to their jobs so the last thing they are going to do is walk away from their desks. They know that they may not have a job when they come back.'

For workers outside the City, however, the timing of Christmas is a chance for an early escape.

Travel Agency First Choice said there had been a surge in bookings for the New Year. P&O Ferries said: 'The great Christmas getaway has already started. There seem to be far more heading to the Continent than there ever used to be.'

Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.