Thomas Cook’s demise has marked the beginning of the end for high street travel agents.
The UK tour operator was formally placed into liquidation on September 23rd after failing to agree on a rescue package amid £1.6 billion debt – triggering 9,000 UK redundancies, the company’s demise is symptomatic of the UK’s struggling high streets.
Thomas Cook has fallen foul to a toxic combination of having around 600 high street stores at a time when families are pursuing different avenues online to save money for holidays abroad, while others are opting for staycations.
Holidaymakers are now tuned in to booking their flights and hotels separately if planning ahead, while others rely on last minute deals – neither of which are going to benefit companies such as Thomas Cook who are offering package holidays.
We are also living in uncertain times with Brexit around the corner, which naturally sees consumers being cautious with their dispensable income – so companies that are going to survive need to have a USP if they are to stand any realistic chance of survival.
A lot of restaurant chains in the casual dining sector are struggling to get a slice of diners’ disposable income at the minute for this exact reason, and a lack of appetite from consumers to spend beyond what they need to is filtering across a range of non-essential markets.
It doesn’t help that we are now entering one of the quieter periods for travel operators as families turn their attentions towards Christmas, which would have exacerbated Thomas Cook’s situation, and intensified fears about generating substantial income to see them through to the New Year when summer holiday bookings tend to pick up.
It is a desperately sad situation for an iconic British brand, and our thoughts are with their staff and customers at this difficult time.
Tom Gardiner, Associate Director at CVR Global