High street travel agency sales are lagging behind other booking channels this summer, according to industry analyst GfK.
Latest statistics from GfK for the season to the start of January show bookings made online and through call centres are up 7%, while high street agency sales are 7% down.
This followed a flat December for the high street in terms of passenger numbers and revenue compared with direct bookings, which saw a 10% rise and 18% rise in revenue.
The high street figures emerged as three large non-retail retailers failed this month. The collapse of Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster is likely to result in 10,300 job losses and nearly 1,000 shop closures.
The British Retail Consortium this week reported a 1.2% fall in high street shoppers in December.
Sarah Smalley, GfK’s UK managing director for consumer choices, put much of the revenue growth through direct channels down to strong sales of medium and long-haul destinations, with poor weather driving more bookings online.
Up to January 1, total bookings for this summer to date were down 2% and revenue down 1% on a year ago.
Alan Bowen, managing partner of consultancy AGB Associates, said: “The bad weather has seriously affected the high street and consumers are not convinced [the economy] is out of the woods yet.”
However, some operators reported strong sales via high street agents. Andy Freeth, managing director of Travel 2, said sales were up through consortia with a strong shop presence.
Its sales are up 23% for January to date year on year. G Adventures is experiencing record sales, 52% up so far this year, with 85% through agents.
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