The Week in Stats: Signs Looking Up for the Holidays

Heading into the holiday season, signs are trending positive for the travel industry. 

Holiday Retail Sales to Increase 4.1 Percent

Sales in November and December (excluding cars, gas and restaurant sales) are expected to increase a healthy 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion, higher than 2013’s actual 3.1 percent increase during that same time frame, reports the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Holiday sales on average have grown 2.9 percent over the past 10 years, including 2014’s estimates, and are expected to represent approximately 19.2 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion, NRF says. This would mark the first time since 2011 that holiday sales would increase more than 4 percent.

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Where Clients Are Headed This Winter

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has released a look at the most popular destinations for the upcoming winter travel season based on travel agent bookings as part of its 2014 Hot Spots for Winter survey. Here's a look at what agents should be keeping on their radar screens. 

Orlando is the most popular domestic destination for the 2014-2015 winter season, according to the ASTA survey. 

Orlando was chosen by 41 percent of the respondents, followed by Las Vegas (13%), New York City (6%), Miami (5%), Honolulu (3%), San Francisco (3%), Fort Myers (3%), Los Angeles 3%), Maui (3%) and San Diego (2%).  

Cancun is the most popular international destination for the 2014-2015 winter season.
Cancun was chosen by 24 percent of respondents, up from only 5 percent in the summer version of the survey. Rounding out the top 10 destinations for winter are Rome (16%), London (11%), Paris (9%), Sydney (3%), Barcelona (3%), Montego Bay (3%), Riviera Maya (3%), Punta Cana (2%) and Cape Town (1%).

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Top Cities for Halloween

This Halloween, the average person will shell out $77.52 — up from $75.03 in 2013 — on holiday-related expenses, including garb, candy, decorations and greeting cards. 

Total spending is expected to reach $7.4 billion, putting Halloween on the map as one of the fastest-growing consumer holidays in America.

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Travel to U.S. to Top 88 Million by 2019

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According to new data from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), international travel to the United States is projected to grow to 88.3 million visitors by 2019, an increase of 27 percent over 2013. 

Visitor volume in 2014 is expected to increase 5.9 percent and reach 73.9 million visitors who stay one or more nights in the United States. This growth would build on the 4.7 percent (revised) increase in arrivals in 2013, which resulted in a record 69.8 million visitors. 

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

Scotland Sees Boost in Profits Since Independence Vote

Just over a month ago, citizens of Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. Since then, the country's hotels have seen an notable increase in profitability.

Scottish hoteliers saw a 27.3 percent surge in gross operating profit per available room (the Total Gross Operating Profit for the period divided by the total available rooms during the period) according to the latest data from HotStats. With occupancy remaining virtually flat, hotels in Scotland increased average room rate (ARR) by 21.7 percent, resulting in rooms revenue per available room climbing by 21.6 percent to £98.56. 

Besides food and beverage, all non-rooms departments recorded positive performances leading to a 13.6 percent growth in total revenue per available room (TRevPAR).

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