Published on Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Stark warning for agents as more than 700 shops close

Almost 700 high street travel agencies closed last year amid stiff competition from online rivals, according to a new report from the Local Data Company (LDC).

LDC's retail and leisure trends report found that 679 travel agency outlets closed in 2017, accounting for the third highest number of closures among high street sector operators.

Pubs saw the biggest decline with 747 outlets shutting their doors, followed closely by banks which closed 711 branches.

"The figures underscore the overwhelming level of competition facing the traditional high street travel agents from their online rivals," said the report's authors.

Research conducted by audit, tax and consulting firm RSM earlier this year found that among 2,000 consumers, fewer than one in five said they booked their holidays in-store.

Ian Bell, head of travel and tourism at RSM said: "The competition from online travel firms is not a new phenomenon but the pace of decline among high street operators is still quite alarming.

"Consumers are still choosing to visit the high street in large numbers, but the overwhelming majority prefer the ease and convenience of booking their holidays online.

"The remaining high street operators continue to attract a more mature clientele, but the reality is that there will be many Millennials who have never set foot inside a high street travel agency.

"On the upside, our recent survey found little sign that people plan to curb their spending on holidays so operators will need to think hard about how they can connect with this new generation."

When Thomas Cook announced a further 50 shop closures last December, it admitted in-store sales had fallen to 47% of its total bookings, while online sales had risen 27%.

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  • Hello Sylvia

    Sorry for the belated reply, but I never seem to get a Travelmole email advice when people respond, although I usually tick the box to request one. Slightlly off topic but since you ask I am a life member of Camra and have been for for getting on for half a century. You will be aware that Camra has been fighting for a fairer tax regime for pubs, although with little success so far. Sadly I fear that travel agencies have little chance of claiming that it is the government's tax regime that is hurting them - the high costs of rental in the high street must be one of the major issues and that is a matter for the landlords.

    By Richard English, Tuesday, June 12, 2018

  • Interesting re pubs!

    Interesting analysis Richard, with which I agree that the travel agency & bank closures are not unexpected for the reasons he states. Although it only relates to Travel Mole regarding travellers, I would like to suggest that the high price of drinking in pubs has reduced the footfall, maybe staying open longer hours too has a knock on effect. We like pubs but no point going if we are the only people there and it costs so much more than having a drink at home. The only way pubs survive these days is by offering cheap meals, so it is more like a restaurant experience. I hope you are also a member of CAMRA.

    By Sylvia Cook, Monday, June 11, 2018

  • What interests me... that the reasons for these closures differ by business. Travel agencies are closing because people have found that it is easy enough to book a simple travel arrangement on-line, which means that only those agents who can target and service those who wish to book complex arrangements and don't feel confident in doing so. Banks are closing because actual money is disappearing and the only reason why anypne needs to visit a bank is when they want to pay in cash. Everything else can be done online. But pubs are an example of a business for which there is no subsitute (rather like restaurants). People go out to both to have an experience which is different from any experience they can have at home or online. The only explanation that I can think of is that people are less interested in having these kinds of experiiences and are happy to stay at home gazing at a screen. I confess that I am rather pleased that I have now retired and can offer my support to that third category, which I intend to do just as soon as I have finished this note!

    By Richard English, Wednesday, June 6, 2018

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