More customers are buying package tours online
Tour operator Thomas Cook has announced plans to close 50 of its stores as part of a review of its retail network.
The outlets that will close are in the UK and are either geographically close to other stores or have seen “a decline in footfall [which] has impacted profitability”.
Thomas Cook – a group that in Scandinavia includes the tour operators Ving, Globetrotter, Spies and Tjäreborg and sells around 1,500,000 trips a year in the Nordic countries – says the closures will happen over the next three months.
The group stresses that the move is part of a general trend in which an increasing number of travel purchases are made online.
The locations scheduled to close include both Thomas Cook and Co-operative Travel branded stores, with up to 400 employees affected.
Just 47% booked in stores
Stores in towns and shopping centres remain an important channel to showcase the operator’s holidays and “provide expertise and reassurance to customers”. But 46% of Thomas Cook bookings in 2017 have been made online, as opposed to just 47% being booked in stores.
“We continually review our network of stores […] to make sure we’re offering customers the best of Thomas Cook, and it is clear that to succeed we have to operate as a truly omni-channel business,” said Kathryn Darbandi, director of retail and customer experience.
Thomas Cook has already cut the size of its network by 45% in the UK over the last five years, even before the latest cuts, to 692 stores. The new wave of closure reduces that figure even more.