GfK Travel Insights

Summer bookings go negative

German holiday bookings dropped sharply in January and are now behind last year, according to the latest monthly sales analysis by market researchers GfK.

Holiday demand in Germany has weakened dramatically at the start of 2019, GfK’s figures show. The figures compare sales by 2,000 representative travel agencies, OTAs and tour operator websites last month with January 2018, which was a very strong booking month.

Winter holiday sales dropped by 6% year-on-year last month, leaving cumulative sales for the current winter season 4% ahead of the same time last year.

More importantly for the German travel industry, summer sales slumped by 9% in January, which is traditionally one of the strongest booking months. As a result, summer 2019 is now 2% behind the same time last year on a cumulative basis. The main travel months of July and August are between 1% and 3% lower than last year.

The major factor behind the headline figures was that online sales also dropped into negative territory last month, with a 1% decline. Travel agents had already seen lower sales in November and December, meaning that in January they had negative growth rates for the third month in a row.

GfK pointed out that the “weak holiday demand” is partly explained by the very strong double-digit growth rates recorded in January 2018 but weaker demand has now affected both travel agents and online sales outlets.

The latest figures mean tour operators and travel agents will be hoping that consumers are simply delaying their summer holiday bookings rather than switching, for example, to self-organised car-based holidays in Germany or in easily accessible destinations such as Austria and Italy.

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