I was sitting in a newly-opened independent restaurant recently, and got chatting to the manager about his ambitious expansion plans.

When I asked about his strategy for picking locations, he said it was quite simple: keep an eye on where Waitrose was planning to open, and scope out the available options.

Cheeky, of course. But also a clever way to identify town centres with potential to deliver good business and the right demographic mix for his restaurants.

Last week, the headlines were once again heralding the death of the high street – with travel agencies leading the footrace to catch up with the dodo.

But our enquiries this week told a different story: not one of doom and gloom, but of businesses making smart strategic decisions to fine-tune their retail estates and identify where they were likely to perform best.

Others also highlighted how travel agents come in many forms, including homeworker, call centre worker and online, which the research did not extend to.

Only a fool would suggest the high street will ever regain its previous position of dominance, as customers embrace the wealth of research and booking options open to them – both high and low-tech. But the evidence we found suggests that a well-thought-out commercial strategy can still include bricks and mortar – providing the product, the price, the service and the location are right.

So-called bucket shops selling point-to-point flights are struggling, and it is the closure of these, alongside Thomas Cook’s consolidation, that is likely to be skewing the figures. But for good agents thinking strategically and creatively, the high street’s future isn’t necessarily as bleak as some headlines may have you believe.

Comment from Travel Weekly, April 19th edition

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