Travel fares worst in Q3 e-retail figures

Travel fares worst in Q3 e-retail figures

UK online travel was the worst performing retail sector in September, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

The sector showed year-on-year sales growth of just 4%, by some distance the lowest rise of all sectors in the index. Sales were down 17% month-on-month, reflecting the traditional fall-off after the summer period.

Overall the travel sector has suffered more than any other sector this year, with third-quarter sales up just 2% year-on-year, the lowest quarterly growth since January 2009.

The other sectors that saw month-on-month declines in September were lingerie (-12%), alcohol (-7%) and home and garden (-1%), although all three have seen considerable year-on-year increases.

David J Smith, chief marketing and communications officer at IMRG, said: “The tough times for the travel sector are showing little sign of improving any time soon, with consumers focusing on home improvements rather than going on holiday.

“This is borne out by the strong yearly growth in the home and garden sector, the second consecutive month that it has recorded a rise of 40%. It is clear that both the stagnation in the housing market and the continuing uncertainty over the economic recovery are influencing consumer behaviour in the online market.”

Overall online retailing in the UK grew by 15% in September year-on-year equating to £5.5bn spent online. Excluding the travel sector, the Index grew at 20%.

IMRG Capgemini said this performance was even more impressive when compared to the situation on the UK high street, that grew just 0.3% according to the British Retail Consortium sales monitor.

Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, said: “Reviewing the results in September, at the end of the third quarter, provides us with a good opportunity to assess how the economic turbulence is affecting the shopping habits of British consumers in 2011.

“It appears that rather than cutting back entirely, we have been more conscientious in our purchases – faced with uncertainty, shoppers are prepared to cut back on luxuries, but not from shopping altogether. Smaller items, such as clothing and items for the home, are considered rewards for our belt tightening, or just more sensible purchases.”


Sector % Change in Index Month-on-Month
Aug. 11 – Sept. 11
% Change in Index Year-on-Year
Sept. 10 – Sept. 11 
Total market6%15%
High street / multichannel only5%15%
Catalogue/online only 7%15%
Excluding travel 3%18%
Clothing (total)19%21%
Health and beauty9%22%
Hone and garden-1%40%

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