Industry analyst GfK hailed “a huge turnaround” in trading this week, with summer 2019 bookings now up on last year despite months of sluggish sales.
GfK reported “nine consecutive weeks of passenger growth [and] strong late sales” had left season-to-date bookings up 1% year on year after the first four months of this year left summer bookings down 7% on 2018.
David Hope, GfK senior client insight director, told Travel Weekly: “There is still an impact on the financial side. The tough trading environment, with bookings coming later, has had a significant impact on cashflow. The industry has had to price holidays extremely competitively. The average selling price is up just £2 in this nine-week period and £14 season to date.” But he said: “In the last three weeks we’ve seen prices increasing.”
Prices in the three weeks to last Saturday have been an average £10-£15 per person higher than last year, he said, reflecting the stronger market.
Hope described the turnaround as “fantastic” and said: “It’s very much all-inclusive driven.” All-inclusive bookings for the summer to date were up 6% year on year to last Saturday and 22% ahead in the week to July 13, with family bookings for the season to date up 4%. Total summer 2019 bookings last week were up 15% year on year.
Bookings this time a year ago were down due to a record-breaking heatwave, but sales in recent weeks have also topped 2017’s figures.
GfK reported: “Greece and Bulgaria have been star performers, joining Turkey and Tunisia’s resurgence.” Holiday bookings to Spain remain 3% down for the season to date but were 14% up year on year last week.
Rad Sofronijevic, Midcounties Co-operative Travel chief operating officer, said: “The lates market is really good. Our passenger numbers are up [and] average sales prices higher. Discounts are also slightly up so margins are being squeezed, but it’s been a strong couple of weeks.”
Miles Morgan Travel managing director Miles Morgan said: “Both summers are going strongly.” But he warned that Brexit, now scheduled for October 31, could mean “October could be messier”.