TIPTO’s latest survey shows the independent retail sector continues to grow and the outlook for business in 2013 is very positive. The survey, which polled independent agents, focused on four main areas; holiday choices, booking patterns, predictions for travel in 2013 and the travel forecast for 2014.
A key finding was that sales throughout January and February have seen a year-on-year increase. More than half the agents (54.2%) who took the survey saw an increase in sales in the first two months of 2013, with a reported 11% increase in bookings, and only 4.2% of agents reported a decrease in year-on-year sales.
Looking ahead, agents are optimistic of a continued increase in bookings throughout 2013 with 45.8% predicting that sales will increase throughout the year by approximately 9% compared to 2012 figures. These figures suggest that the future of the independent High Street travel agent is still strong, with holidaymakers turning away from online bookings and returning to their local or specialist trusted independent travel agent/advisor.
Regarding holiday choices, 62.5% of agents predicted that all-inclusive holidays will sell better this year, suggesting that consumer confidence is low and holidaymakers are looking for the best possible value whilst continuing to budget for the year. Some 54.2% of agents envisaged an increase in bookings for long-haul destinations, but no agents predicted a rise in ski and snow holidays, highlighting that this sector remains expensive and a second choice to a summer or long-haul holiday.
In terms of holiday destination choices, 58.3% of agents forecast that there will be an increase in bookings to the Mediterranean and 45.8% predicted that bookings to the Caribbean and Middle East would rise. At the lower end of the scale, just 4% of agents expect a rise in travel to France.
Sarah Payne, manager of Triangle Travel independent travel agents, said: “The beginning of the year started off with a bang, February has continued to be good and we have already surpassed our year-on-year figures. We have found that Africa – tailor-made lodge safaris – and South America have been particularly popular with USA flights, tours and short breaks also being a good seller."