All signs point to an upturn in summer sales in the second half of January, following a tough start to the month.
Industry analyst GfK reported a 4% year-on-year rise in bookings in the week to January 31, following a 2% increase the preceding week. That followed a 1% year-on-year decline in the week to January 17 and 4% shortfall in the week to January 10.
GfK reported summer 2015 package bookings up 4% last week, with all-inclusive sales 8% ahead and family bookings up 9%.
Bookings for holidays of between eight and 13 nights also showed sharp growth (up 8%), as did long-haul bookings (up 8%) and short-haul (up 6%). The average selling price for summer 2015 remained £7 up year on year at the end of the month, with season-to-date sales up at least 2%.
The current winter season was 5% down overall. But year-on-year bookings in the week to January 24 were 4% up, with average prices down.
Agents confirmed the improving picture – and some posted records. Travel Counsellors reported sales of £2.82 million on January 16 – its best-ever day – and said the month as a whole was 7% up on 2014. Sales director Malcolm Hingley suggested several reasons, including “work travel counsellors put into relationships with customers who booked last January”.
Hays Travel owner John Hays said: “We are up year on year. We have been busy at weekends, but there have been troughs midweek. The highs have been really high and the troughs lower than normal. But we have had a fantastic month in foreign exchange.”
John Sullivan, commercial head at Advantage Travel Partnership, reported “a marked improvement” last weekend, as many people received their first salary payment of the year.
But he said: “It wasn’t a stampede. The mass market has been underperforming. But we are doing well in long-haul, luxury, tailor-made and cruises.”
He suggested the falling cost of oil may have led some consumers to hold off booking in the hope prices will drop.
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