Online travel sales experience slowdown in July

Sluggish travel sales have contributed to the lowest overall online sales growth for 18 months according to the latest figures from IMRG Capgemini.

The e-Retail Sales Index show online sales up 11.5% in July 2011 across all sectors compared to July 2010 although online spend increased 5% to £5.58 billion in July compared to June.

Online sales in travel sector were down by 1% compared to 2010 with IMRG saying the decline is in line with the general industry trends. 

However, online sales in travel increased 15% between June and July reflecting the ongoing late booking trend.

The report said the slowdown was down to better weather prompting people to hit the high street.  “The slowing growth comes as better weather saw more shoppers hitting retail parks and the high street rather than staying indoors to do their shopping.

“The negative growth in the travel sector is consistent with the industry at large, with many travel companies seeing bookings decline this year. The collapse of travel firm Holidays 4U compounded a poor summer’s trading as online bookings failed to materialise at the expected rate.”

Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini said: “The slowdown in July shows the internet is not immune in tough times. Successful retailers will need to expand into multichannel and continue to improve customer experience throughout the online shopping processes. Furthermore, with such a successful first half of 2011, it was a tall order for online sales to maintain such rapid growth.”

IMRG Experian Hitwise retail rankings published earlier this week showed improvement for many travel sites although, when compared with last year, most travel brands ranked lower.

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