January snow ‘stalled three months of leisure travel growth’

Three consecutive months of year-on-year growth in the leisure travel market came to an end in January, according to the latest official figures issued by GfK Ascent-MI.

The snow and ice at the turn of the year has been blamed for the performance last month – the British Retail Consortium has called it the worst January on the high street for 15 years.

January sales ended flat year on year. However, a pick-up in trade in the last week of January and first two weeks of February could indicate that the 2010 peaks market came in late.

GfK Ascent-MI chief executive Sarah Smalley said: “After three consecutive months of growth, it’s disappointing that the bad weather has not helped January sales.

“Overall, given circumstances outside of the industry’s control, it seems we have had a reasonable January and the early signs in February are very promising.”

Bookings to date for summer 2010 are 4% down in terms of passenger numbers, an improvement on the position in December when they were 6% down.

Smalley said there was nothing to suggest the improved position was down to a price war but that operators and agents were having to react to changes in the market by tweaking prices.

Overall, monthly revenues have varied from being down 15% to 28% up, suggesting operators have not got to grips with market fluctuations such as those caused by last month’s snow.

Smalley said: “Being able to respond quickly in a critical sales period can be the difference between losing money and making a profit.”


Key trends in January

  • Eight to 13-night breaks saw growth (+25%) for summer 2010, whereas the traditional 14-night break continued to suffer
  • The greatest reduction in passengers came from holidays priced under £600, the unprofitable part of the market where operators are cutting capacity
  • Self-catering is down 170,000 passengers compared to the same period last year as clients opt for all-inclusive, which is also helping to raise the average selling price
  • The average sales price for all-inclusive increased by just £5 on the same month in 2009, suggesting there are some good deals to be had in this sector
  • All-inclusive has been taking market share and now represents around one third of the overall market, ahead of self-catering
  • Mid-haul was the star performer in terms of haul-type ending the month 2% up
  • Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and the western US were the top-performing destinations
  • The family market continued to fall and was 7%  down
  • Cruise bookings were up 20% with a particular uplift in sales on the high street

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.