Here's our latest update from Auto Europe's Commercial Director for the UK and Ireland, Peter McAree:2009 has been a strange year for the car hire industry. We'd anticipated a change in our customers' habits during the recession, but instead of a slowdown in sales, it's actually been lack of availability in many of the most popular destinations that has kept us awake at night. As I mentioned in a previous post, a number of the major car hire suppliers have reduced fleets or avoided replacing old vehicles, resulting in a limited offering. There's no doubt that our customers' requirements have altered during this turbulent economic time, but instead of abandoning holiday plans altogether, they've simply become keener than ever to find a bargain. Perhaps that's why we're currently witnessing strong demand for car hire bookings in September.Spain, Portugal and Italy are among the most popular destinations for the first few weeks of the month. After waiting until the last minute for a 'barbeque summer' that never came, it looks like many Brits who'd hoped to save some money with a break at home are rushing to find some sun before winter kicks in.Then of course there's the school holiday price hike. Anyone who isn't tied to that timetable, along with parents who are prepared to break the rules to make a saving (that's 56% according to online parenting network mumsnet) can and are taking advantage of much lower prices. Be warned though, Tour Operators have cut capacity this year. A major surge in business could keep travel prices higher than you might expect to get a deal for, and some late bookers may end up having to re-think their travel plans. As always, my advice is to book as early as possible.