Come on girls, admit it… wasn’t it fabulous to go out spending again after chancellor Alistair Darling’s recent pre-Budget report?


You could hardly see me in the blur of grabbing my coat as I rushed off to make the most of the new 15% VAT rate. Wow, the 50p I managed to ‘save’ in Marks and Spencer was certainly a welcome relief in our house, that’s for sure!


There’s been a lot in the press about how important it is for the government to stimulate the economy, but can knocking off a few pennies’ worth of tax really make a difference?


The truth is the market is already one step ahead of the government.


I couldn’t help noticing (on my way to M&S) that virtually every major retailer is advertising huge savings. There hasn’t been so much slashing going on since Freddy Krueger was around – Christmas 2008 and it’s time for ‘Nightmare on High Street’.


With so many businesses competing for consumers’ attention, travel retailers have got a big job on their hands.


Ironically, as an industry, we were making headway when it came to the ‘book early’ message. People were starting to understand there was less capacity in the market and last-minute deals would not be as readily available as they once were.


Now what do we have? Potential clients who still want to go on holiday, but are too scared about the future to commit to purchases a long way in advance.


It puts the spotlight back on you. What are you doing to entice clients through the door? How are you converting interest into sales?


There can be snobbery among independent retailers about offering the widest product choice, but now is not the time for high ideals. Consortium members will be well versed in identifying suppliers offering the best returns, and you can bet your life these suppliers are even keener to work with you now. Make the support a two-way thing.


And while you’re there, ensure you have the best payment terms available to maximise your cash flow.


A disciplined sales policy will ensure you stand out and you can make the most of your offers by advertising widely. There’s no need to blow your marketing budget since local newspapers and radio stations are keen to get your business.


With lead times shortening, the emphasis in December and January should be on ski. Great snow conditions in Europe are getting good press and winter sports operators are offering big discounts.


All that remains is to wish you all a very happy Christmas.