2011 takes off with soaring online travel spend
The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reveal that shoppers in the UK spent a total of £5.1 billion online during January, equivalent to £83 per person; an impressive 21% more than the same time last year.
With limited disposable income available, it appears that rather than blitzing the high street January sales, shoppers opted instead for seasonal discounts on furniture and early bookings of annual holidays.
The results from the travel sector showed a 31% rise compared with the amount spent in January 2010. It seems Brits fought off the January blues with dreams of golden beaches and snow-capped ski-slopes. Significantly, the average basket value of holidays booked was £886, the highest recorded since the launch of the sector in December 2008.
Another sector that recorded impressive growth was home and garden. After five months of annual decline, the sector made a significant year-on-year leap of 56%, with an average basket spend of £120. This could be attributed to the brief glimpses of an early spring that were witnessed throughout the month and healthy discounts by furniture and DIY chains – as the heavy snow receded, British consumers made preparations for more pleasant climes.
Tina Spooner, Director of Information at IMRG comments: “While the Index results for January show a very encouraging start to the year for e-retailers, it is important to note this strong growth is on the back of the lowest-ever annual growth recorded in January last year when the e-retail market grew just 4.6%. Multichannel retailers performed well last month with sales growing by almost a third compared with January last year, but the pureplays and catalogue retailers saw annual growth dip to 8%, following a year of steady growth in 2010.
Sales of travel were strong during January, particularly after the severe winter weather in December. Clearly, Britons are not tightening their belts where holidays are concerned, with the Index recording the highest average spend in this sector in over two years.”
Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini says: “January was a very interesting month. As expected we saw a strong growth in the Index following a very weak start last year, but the jump in the travel sector and the gap between multi-channel and pure plays has come as quite a surprise. In regards to the surge in travel, it seems that the British consumer is looking ahead to sunnier times and taking full advantage of the big New Year sales offered by the major travel operators. It remains to be seen whether the sector continues this growth in February following the recent announcement that Iceland’s second largest volcano, Bardarbunga, is on the verge of erupting.”
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