UK bookings for summer 2009 down 12 per cent

Figures from research company GfK Ascent MI’s Leisure Travel Monitor (LTM) show that at the end of February, UK bookings for summer 2009 are 12% down on last year.

The 12% drop in Summer 2009 bookings covers seat and accommodation-only as well as packages. High street shops are down 10%, with direct bookings 16% down.

The disconnect between the drop from shops and direct is a sign that, despite the economic downturn, customers are interested in factors other than price.

“The average selling price for direct is lower than what the high street is charging, so we think that customers value the reassurance from a face-to-face transaction with an agent,” said Smalley.

Direct bookings cover agent and operator call centres and websites.

Figures for package holidays only show an overall drop of 16%. Again, shops are seeing a 10% drop in volumes with direct bookings 25% lower than last year.

Rachael Joy, who oversees the index, said: “This month consumer confidence jumped quite significantly to levels not seen since May last year. It still remains historically very low, but suggests that lower interest rates and a better picture for household bills are restoring some confidence among UK consumers. Certainly, when looking to the future, consumers are feeling better about the likely performance of the economy over the next 12 months.”

The confidence index produced by Nationwide/TNS will be released tomorrow (Wednesday). Its February index showed a slight improvement from January.

Ascent MI sources its data from a number of sources, with 55% of all ABTA registered agents providing information. All TUI, Thomas Cook and lastminute.com group companies are also included. Sarah Smalley, MD of GfK Ascent MI, said that the LTM is the most robust indicator on the market.

Sarah Smalley, managing director of GfK Ascent MI, added that parent company GfK produces a sector-wide confidence index of its own and that the latest findings for March 09 show an improvement on previous months. although the figure is still “very, very low”.

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