Agents are branching out to sell non-travel products in a bid to boost cashflow and stay positive as Covid-19 continues to smash hopes of a pick-up in winter trading.

Retailers have come up with creative sideline businesses, from selling crafts and perfumes to jewellery and cakes as they face months of low sales and revenues.

Pole Travel in Failsworth, Manchester, has put homemade Halloween wreaths in its window, and sold five in the first week. Three of the staff learnt how to make the wreaths by watching YouTube videos before adapting them to create their own designs to sell at £20 each. They have 10 designs, from skeletons to light‑up signs, and are taking bespoke orders.

They have started Facebook page Winnie’s Wreaths and plan to sell autumnal and Christmas wreaths too.

Owner Jill Waite said: “Although it’s not a fortune, it’s better than nothing; it might help keep us going.”

Travel Counsellors’ Cornel Schalkwyk has turned to her childhood love of baking to bring in extra money. She set up Blooming Bakes by Cornel in June, selling cake ‘bouquets’, and this week launched a website and YouTube channel.

“It’s really taken off,” she said. “It’s always been my hobby but I had never progressed it professionally until now.

“With every lost booking you see money walk out the door because of having to pay commissions back. I needed something else to keep me focused, positive and busy, and money was also part of the reason.

“There is a massive earnings difference, but people who have bought cakes have said they’ll be in touch when travel picks up.”

Elsewhere, The Travel Team in Brampton, Cumbria, is getting into the festive swing early by opening a pop-up Christmas shop on October 19.

Called ‘Holly Days and Holidays’, the new venture in the agency will sell handmade gifts such as including wreaths, wall hangings, snowmen and baubles.

Liz Beaty, director at The Travel Team, said: “It’s been a tough year for many businesses in Cumbria, especially for those of us in travel and tourism. We have a large shop window in the centre of Brampton and I’m looking forward to bringing some Christmas spirit to the town this year.”