THE trade blamed
one less trading day immediately after Christmas and poor weather for a
sluggish start to 2003.

Trading was 19%
down but good shop footfall gave agencies confidence bookings would begin “in
earnest” next week.

But Cosmos
commercial director Stuart Jackson warned: “If bookings continue to be down,
it’s because the trade has not stimulated the market.”

Industry figures
show Airtours to be 13% down, Thomson 31% down, First Choice 11% down and
Thomas Cook 6% down, but all compare with volumes sold last year.

Thomas Cook and
Thomson said the loss of an extra day had affected shop bookings. Thomas Cook,
which admitted “sluggish” sales, appears to have fared worst in volume terms
and First Choice has come out on top.