THOUSANDS of sunseekers flocked to Southsea Common as the Easter holidays began.
But although Portsmouth was a family hotspot – with temperatures reaching a scorching 21C – roads in and out of the city were quiet.
Traders said people are shunning weekend breaks away because of the tough financial times.
Manager of the pitch and putt course on Southsea Common Dave Roberts said: ‘It’s been absolutely brilliant so far – much better than last year which was bad because of the weather.
‘I have noticed that none of my regular visitors from out of town have arrived this year.
‘Usually there are people who come from up north but this year it just seems to be locals.
‘It hasn’t affected business but I guess it is because people here don’t have money to go away either.’
Road conditions were helped after the Highways Agency suspended more than half of roadworks on motorways and major A-roads over Easter.
This includes construction work on the A27 Bedhampton Interchange. Work will start again on May 3.
Sophy Yildirim, 32, of Heyshott Road, Southsea, was having a picnic on the common with a group of friends.
She said: ‘We’ve all come down here on our bikes to have a nice day out. It’s better than packing the car up and going somewhere else.
‘My husband has been calling it the Costa Del Southsea.
‘It’s great to have somewhere like this to go when the weather is nice. I can see why people are coming here rather than going abroad.’
Temperatures are set to remain high over the rest of the weekend.
Ice cream vendor Gemma Sears, 22, said: ‘I think with the credit crunch people can’t afford to go away like they used to.
‘We have a great seafront here and lots to do, so I don’t know why people would want to. Everyone is having a good time.’