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The TTG Analysis


Streets ahead F


or the past few years, UK newspapers have often included stories depicting the death of the high street.


The British public has been told time and again how out-of-town shopping centres are taking away vital business from local shops, while the government has also recognised the worrying decline of town centres, bringing in Mary Portas in 2011 to try and tackle the issue. However, research commissioned


by TTGtaken from face-to-face interviews with travel agents has revealed there is still notable optimism for high street travel agents, with anecdotal evidence suggesting footfall in agency shops is actually on the rise – proof, if you needed it, that the high street is far from dead. Last month, TTGcommissioned


research agency Field Market Solutions to conduct surveys with 850 high street travel agents, three-quarters of which comprised Thomas Cook and Tui, with independents making up the rest. A number of questions were asked


to gauge the opinions of the trade on current market conditions, whether the format in which they take bookings had changed in the past five years and what they considered the biggest threat to their business to be. Numerous concerns were raised


by those interviewed and there is no denying that the market remains tough. But there was also a feeling of positivity – most notably in the figures, which revealed that footfall in shops is increasing. Some 58% of those interviewed said they had seen a higher footfall year-on-year in their stores, with only 5% reporting that they had seen a drop since last year. While 68% admitted that footfall


10 17.07.2014


was less now than five years ago, well over half of those questioned said they had noticed higher footfall compared with a year ago. Agents also noted that it had


been “an extremely busy January” and that they had had to “work hard to meet demand”, although the researchers found that there had been a slight reduction in footfall during the second


Databox 63%


SAID ONLINE DISCOUNTING BY OPERATORS AND CUSTOMERS COMPARING PRICES WAS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT THREAT TO THEIR BUSINESS


The headlines may have been focused on the high street’s demise in recent years, but new research commissioned by TTG reveals that there are plenty of reasons to be positive. Sophie Griffiths examines the outlook of agents in the current economic climate


COVERSTORY


the customer chairs have been full. People are shopping – particularly these three weeks before the schools break up. “Without a doubt, footfall is up –


I’m physically seeing it. It could be because there’s a much better feeling about the economy. People are more confident with regards to the economy and the winter was a long one.” Despite the positivity, however,


Reports about the death of the high street may have been exaggerated


quarter and at the beginning of the World Cup. This finding was supported by


Andy Stark, managing director of the Global Travel Group. “Our members took a lot of bookings in January and February. It really spiked, then it drifted off a bit and picked up again around May,” he said. “I’ve been to three travel agencies in the past seven days and


agents did admit that the number of vacant premises on their high street had increased in the past five years, with 77% stating that they had experienced a rise in general shop closures. Figures from the British Retail


Consortium backed up this feeling, with UK vacancy rates standing at 11% in January 2014, compared with 10.3% in January 2012. However, the majority of agents who said another travel agency had closed in their town also reported a rise in business in their own store.


58% 77%


of agents said there was higher footfall year-on-year


said there had been an increase in the number of vacant premises on their high street


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