700 travel agents disappear from high street in 2017

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

The 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. 

Research conducted by RSM earlier this year found that among 2,000 consumers, just one in five (19 per cent) 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.