Criteo Data Analyzes Summer Travel, Retail Holiday Trends

Criteo recently launched its Commerce Trends Dashboard, which provides insight into monthly shopping trends by product category across more than 15,000 retailers worldwide.

Some of the trends the company shared revolve around travel, but Rory Mitchell, executive managing director at Criteo, also shared data forecasts and advice for the upcoming holiday season.

Travel trends hit a high note in the U.S. this past summer as:

  • Shopping in the U.S. for hotels and resorts rose 124% in May 2021 compared with the year-ago month, on pent-up demand from pandemic lockdowns. June experienced a 51% increase and July experienced a 48% increase.  
  • Bookings for plane tickets grew 171% in May 2021 year-over-year, followed by 100% in June and 94% in July.  
  • Shopping for ground and cruise packages rose 53% in May 2021 YoY, 62% in June, and 83% in July, with a 95% jump in August compared with the year prior.
  • More people are shopping for luggage and bags, signaling hopes for continuing travel despite pandemic-related uncertainty. The product category saw a 29% increase in May 2021 compared with the same month last year, a 38% increase in June, and 56% in July.  

Trends in Europe and Asia followed a similar path as the U.S., with some exceptions, according to Mitchell.

In France, for example, consumers shopped less for hotels and resorts -- about 18% -- in August compared with 2020 after rising 247% YoY in May.
In the U.K., searching for airfare rose YoY, but fell 11% in July. 

Shopping for airfare in Japan took a similar YoY dip in June, at 14%. Hotels and resorts searches slowed dramatically during the summer despite a 99% increase in June, falling 3% in August. In China the trend looked different.

The Greater China area rose 10% in May, but fell 79% in June, 58% in July, and 43% in August, compared with the prior year. 

What can retailers expect this holiday season? Pandemic shopping habits are keeping consumers plugged in, Mitchell said.

“Retailers will need to lean into this 'constant commerce' mindset by tapping into enhanced omnichannel marketing strategies,” he wrote in an email to Inside Performance. “This year’s back-to-school shopping season is a great indicator of what is to come for holiday.”

When comparing in-store versus online sales of U.S. omnichannel retailers, Criteo found that in August, while online fell 4% in the last week, in-store sales from the same retailers remained impressive with an increase of 42%.

The industry has been talking about seamless buying for years, but this year in particular, retailers should be prepared to bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping experiences.

He believes that retailers should expect an extended holiday season.

“For example, we anticipate the path to purchase for Black Friday begins an average of two weeks for U.S. shoppers before the mega-discount day,” he wrote.  

Consumers also are getting an early start to avoid any issues with getting their gifts in time, particularly in-store where they’re guaranteed to take their purchase home with them. Many retailers have already shared that there will be shortages of several products this year due to logistical issues including manufacturing and overseas deliveries, so it’s critical to plan early.

Toy makers, such as Basic Fun and LOL! Surprise, are among the handful that have already spoken about limited inventory, prompting parents to get a head start on getting their hands on the most in-demand toys for their children this year. 

When asked to cite the biggest challenge this year for marketers -- and how to overcome them -- Mitchell wrote that consumers in 2020 spent more time at home consuming content across devices and various channels. This year, marketers can be even more effective by adopting an audience-first approach to reach consumers in “discovery-oriented environments including physical stores, retail sites and apps.”

Another way to overcome sticking to tradition is by investing more in omnichannel marketing strategies because customers who purchase both online and offline have a higher propensity to purchase more often than those in-store-only or online-only customers, demonstrating an opportunity to shape them into brand loyalists.




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