• £5.1 billion spent online during January; equates to a year-on-year increase of 21%
• Travel sector sees huge surge; year-on-year increase of 31% and a massive 173% increase on December 2010
• Average basket value for travel sector highest since launch of sector in December 2008

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.

Also, in a detoxifying January, alcohol sales declined by a huge 67%, a result of online shoppers cutting back on the excesses of the festive period.

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(2).”

The Index paints a varied picture of the performance of online businesses, with multi-channel retailers making the most of their brand and physical presence to secure a greater share of spending. Both multi-channel and online only (including catalogue) retailers declined at a similar rate from December, -24% and -27% respectively, but in terms of year-on-year, multi-channel jumped a significant 30%, while online only grew just 8% compared with January 2010. Shoppers are spending on average £195 in January with multi-channel retailers, compared to just £92 with online only; equating to a year-on-year average basket value change of 2% for multi-channel and a staggering decline of -27% for online only.

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.”


Industry quotes
Jonathon Brown, Head of Online Selling, John Lewis, comments:
In January johnlewis.com continued to see significant outperformance as our customers responded to our excellent product offer and great customer experience. Overall sales were up over 35% with all buying groups outperforming last year. Most notable was fashion which continued to drive forward with sales +70% on the same month last year. The category was boosted by phenomenal sales in womenswear, accessories and beauty. Home, on the back of our Clearance offer, had a very strong month with sales up over 30% on 2010. Overall it has been a great way to finish the financial year and having passed the £500m landmark (for the year), we have certainly closed out on a high.”

Russ Carroll, UK Managing Director, Shopping.com, says:
The e-retail market is going from strength to strength as consumers continue to go online for the best price, choice and easiest shopping experience when buying a variety of goods.  Supporting growth experienced in the travel sector, Shopping.com saw sales of luggage rise by over 20% as many consumers decided they needed to get away from the miserable British weather!  Strong year-on-year growth is proving that even when purse strings are tight, consumers are recognising the value of shopping online.”

Gareth Jones, Retail Director, Shop Direct Group, comments:
We have maintained the strong sales performance that we saw over the Christmas period. Sales via mobile devices have been particularly pleasing and have continued to show impressive growth, with a 320% year-on-year increase being recorded for January.”

Phillip Rinn, Director of Advertising Partnerships, eBay Advertising, comments:
The 31% year-on-year increase in online travel spend highlights just how much consumers are embracing online as a popular channel for holiday and travel-related purchases. Travel is one of the sectors of the UK economy that saw the earliest adoption of the internet as an initial point of purchase and this trend shows no sign of abating. From a marketing point of view, it’s therefore important that online has a proportionate share of the overall spend when brand marketers are allocating budgets.”

Bruce Fair, Managing Director, Kelkoo, comments:
Spending levels witnessed in January will be the exception rather than the norm for 2011, in what can only be described as the ‘last hurrah’ before the government’s austerity measures dampen consumer appetite to shop in the coming months. People were frantically heading online in an attempt to beat the VAT increase and grab a bargain in January. After such a bleak winter, it’s also no great surprise that the draw of sunnier climes was so appealing last month, resulting in a welcome holiday booking boom for the online travel industry.”

Notes to Editors
About IMRG
IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) is the industry association for global e-retail. Formed in 1990, IMRG is setting and maintaining pragmatic and robust e-retail standards to enable fast-track industry growth, and facilitates its community of members with practical help, information, tools, guidance and networking. Consumers can be confident when dealing with IMRG Members because all interact in an environment where they are encouraged to operate using methods that are Honest, Decent, Legal, Truthful and Fair, and have undertaken to not bring the industry into disrepute. The strength of IMRG is the collective and cooperative power of its members. For more information please visit http://www.imrg.org/ or email market@imrg.org

About Capgemini
Capgemini, one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services, enables its clients to transform and perform through technologies. Capgemini provides its clients with insights and capabilities that boost their freedom to achieve superior results through a unique way of working, the Collaborative Business ExperienceTM. The Group relies on its global delivery model called Rightshore®, which aims to get the right balance of the best talent from multiple locations, working as one team to create and deliver the optimum solution for clients. Present in more than 30 countries, Capgemini reported 2009 global revenues of EUR 8.4 billion and employs 90,000 people worldwide.
More information is available at www.capgemini.com.
Rightshore® is a trademark belonging to Capgemini

About the ‘IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index’
The IMRG Capgemini Index, which was started in April 2000, tracks ‘online sales’, which we define as ‘transactions completed fully, including payment, via interactive channels’ from any location, including in-store.  These sales are predominantly internet-based today, but the Index remains ready to record e-retail sales conducted via whatever interactive channels the market may embrace in the future.

Around one hundred e-retailers now regularly contribute data to the IMRG Capgemini Index, including Airport Parking & Hotels Ltd, Amara, Arcadia Group (Burton, Top Man, Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis, Miss Selfridge), Ask Direct, ASOS.com, Beautique.com, BeCheeky.com, Binends.com, Blacks, Boden.co.uk, Boohoo.com, Boots Direct,Brora, Buyagift.com, BuyItDirect.co.uk, Carphone Warehouse, Charles Tyrwhitt,  Clarks, Cloggs, Comet, Co-operative Travel, Crocus.co.uk, Dabs.com, Damart, Debenhams, Dobbies, e-flowersUK.co.uk, Ethical Superstore, Figleaves.com, Firebox, First Choice, Freemans Grattan Holdings, Furniture123, Game, Gameplay, Gamestation, Getting Personal.co.uk, GreatValueJewellery.com, Greenfingers.com, Home & Cook, House of Fraser, JD Sports, J D Williams, John Lewis Partnership, Ladderstore.com, Lastminute.com, LK Bennett, Lookfantastic.com, M and M Direct, Made in Sheffield, Marks & Spencer, Matalan, Millets, Monster Travel, Musto, My Tuxedo, Naked Wines, NaturalCollection.com, New Look, Next, Peacocks, Perfect Handbags, PetPlanet.co.uk, Philip Kingsley, PIXmania, Prezzybox.com, QVC, R C Roland, Redfoot Revolution, Richer Sounds, Rubber Sole, Sainsbury’s, Scales Express, Shoe-Shop.com, Shop Direct Home Shopping, Schuh, Serenata Flowers, Shedstore, Slurp.co.uk, Sofa and Home, Sunshine.co.uk, Tesco.com, Tesco Electrical, The Fragrance Shop, The Health Supermarket, The Natural Store, TUI UK, Turton Wines, Vie at Home, Waitrose & Wilkinson Hardware.

(1)Calculation by 5.1 billion, divided by 61,414,062 (www.google.com/publicdata)
(2)http://www .travelweekly.co.uk/Articles/2 011/02/14/36115/warning-of-new-icelandic -volcano-eruption.html