High street agents led a bookings surge in January, with industry analyst GfK confirming a fine start to the year for summer 2013.
GfK reported a 1% increase in bookings through the high street in January and a 4% rise in revenue year on year. It noted: “Without heavy snow in the third week of January this would have been even higher.”
Family bookings outperformed the market, showing 5% growth on January 2012. Package holiday sales were also up 5%, with faster growth in mid and long-haul bookings than short-haul.
Season-to-date sales remain 1% down on last year, according to GfK, but with bookings for departures in May and August 4% up year on year.
At the same time, a £24 rise in average revenue per passenger has contributed to an overall rise in turnover.
The shortfall in total bookings for the season roughly matches a 5% reduction in mainstream capacity at Thomas Cook, given Tui Travel has reported a 3% rise in capacity on 2012.
Advantage reports even better figures across its members’ 800-plus outlets.
Chief executive John McEwan confirmed “the best January in five years”, saying: “We finished the month in fine fettle, 9% up in volume [on 2012]. Revenue held up. There is not much evidence of discounting.”
McEwan reported only two areas of weakness: domestic travel and mainstream cruise. Of cruise, he said: “There are a lot of changes to marketing and pricing. Traditional cruisers are saying ‘If we book 12 months in advance we’ll pay full price. Wouldn’t it be better to wait?’”
He added: “February began well. Advantage members were 15% up in volume last week.
“The cumulative position is up on last year and that is encouraging. It’s the first year-on-year increase since 2008. There is a little more confidence around and we’re happy to get the business in.
“Even if sales slow from here, the market will be ahead – we didn’t predict any growth at the start of the year.”
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