TWgroup editor Lucy HuxleyIt’s not often your average customer cares about a government budget announcement – let alone allows the prospect of what is to come to change their buying habits.

But according to agents and operators that I’ve spoken to recently, the spectre of harsh cuts and hefty tax increases in the emergency budget next Tuesday could be having a significant effect on spending.

Like rabbits caught in the headlights, and with the ash crisis still fresh in the memory, a lot of consumers have become so concerned about the misery they have been told is heading their way that they have stopped dead in their tracks.

And until they find out exactly how bad things are going to be, booking their summer holidays seems to have been put on hold.

Others believe that it will be the winter that is worse hit, since any spending cuts and tax increases that are imposed won’t take effect immediately.

Either way, there is no doubt pain lies ahead, and agents based in areas where lots of customers work in the public sector may witness that more than most.

But the feeling among many who are now wondering what is about to hit them in the budget may well be one of relief that the truck has passed once the details are announced.

Let’s hope we actually see more optimism and increased bookings once we know the worst.

There are still plenty of challenges, not least with talks between BA and Unite going nowhere. But it is worth thinking about how you market yourselves to those who decide next week is the right time to shell out on a holiday.