BOULDER, Colorado—Each year RRC Associates collects and summarizes the school vacation dates of a sample of approximately 550 U.S school districts and universities. The resulting compilation provides valuable insights for anticipating upcoming leisure travel demand around important holiday periods.
This article summarizes notable findings regarding school vacation patterns for the remainder of the spring 2012 semester. Next Wednesday, we’ll look ahead to preliminary findings for the 2012/2013 academic year.
Spring break 2012
As always Easter is an important influence on the timing of school spring breaks. This year, Easter Sunday falls on 8 April; 44% of school districts in the research sample have scheduled their 2012 spring break to overlap with Easter weekend. More school districts will be on vacation that weekend than any other weekend in March or April 2012. By comparison, only 15% of school districts were on spring break the same weekend last year (9-10 April 2011), when Easter occurred exceptionally late (24 April 2011).
Overall, with Easter occurring two weeks earlier in 2012 than in 2011 (as compared on a day-of-week basis), school spring breaks will occur during a more compressed period this year than last. Specifically, a higher share of school district breaks will occur between Saturday, 24 March and Friday, 13 April this year than last, as an increased share of schools move their spring breaks close to Easter. Conversely, a lower share of school district breaks will occur before 24 March or after 13 April this year than last. (See graph to follow.)
The two weeks of highest spring break incidence will be 10 March to 18 March and 31 March to 8 April 2012.
Yearly shifts in spring breaks are typically more modest for universities than school districts, and the same is true in 2012. However, as with school districts, an increased share of universities will be on break this year during the 24 March to 13 April period, while a reduced share will be on vacation before 24 March or after 13 April. The week of 10 March to 18 March 2012 will continue to be the leading spring break period for universities in both 2012 and 2011.
Start of summer vacation 2012
School districts will begin summer vacation in largely similar fashion in 2012 as in 2011. Most will start vacation between 21 May and 9 June. Interestingly, however, there will be a slight shift to later-starting vacations. On any given day in much of late May and early June, approximately 4% fewer school districts will be on summer break in 2012 than in 2011.
Universities tend to wrap up their spring semesters much earlier than school districts, with most universities commencing their 2012 summer break in the 3 May to 13 May period. As with school districts, there will be a slight shift to later-starting vacations for universities in 2012 than in 2011.
In a world in which much is unpredictable, school vacation dates represent one aspect of the future that can be known with certainty. As an important determinant of leisure demand at key holiday periods, school vacation patterns can prove useful for anticipating and capitalizing on significant market opportunities.
Next week’s article, published 22 February, looks ahead to school vacation patterns for the 2012/13 academic year, based on the preliminary results of RRC’s annual school break research.
Note: Final 2011/12 and preliminary 2012/13 school vacation reports, including summary analysis and individual district dates, are available for purchase at STR.com, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.