Agents buck trend of 2012 market slump

Agents buck trend of 2012 market slump

Agents reported strong sales in January, despite industry figures showing the overall market is down year on year.

Industry analyst GfK Ascent reports summer 2012 bookings 8% down year on year for the season to date – in line with capacity cuts at Tui and Thomas Cook – with package sales slightly better at 7% down.

Bookings for the month to January 28 were 15% down on a year ago, but the shortfall was 11% last week, GfK told Travel Weekly. This is against strong sales in January 2011 when bookings initially surged 18% on 2010.

Retailers reported better figures. Travel Counsellors enjoyed two of its best-ever days this month, with sales peaking on January 13 – up 9% on the previous record last January – and January 20. The company also reported significant late winter sales.

Barrhead Travel reported passenger numbers up 29% for January – the reward for opening five new shops last year, according to chairman Bill Munro. Online agency Holidaysplease said January sales were 30% up year-on-year, with the average value up 22%.

Premier Holidays reported sales up 16% year on year. Managing director Susan Papworth said: "We are way up on high-value business."

Derek Moore, chairman of Aito, said: "The luxury end is thriving; the squeezed middle is holding back."

Advantage chief executive John McEwan said: "Specialist operators have done well. We’re probably 3%-4% down, but up 7% on price year on year. We were anticipating the market could end 10% down."

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