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Insight: Unleashing Potential from Pet Parents

Our 1st party transaction data suggests that while less and less consumers are spending in the pet specialty retail category every year, those who remain are increasingly valuable for brands to retain.
6 Minute Read

Explore why driving transaction frequency among existing and high-value customers is essential in the pet category.

New from Cardlytics: Our 1st party transaction data suggests that while less and less consumers are spending in the pet specialty retail category every year, those who remain are increasingly valuable for brands to retain. Download the full insight bulletin today!

Since COVID, the Pet specialty retail category has seen impressive growth in spend every year. However, the rate of growth has significantly declined. The leading driver of this slow down is a decline in the volume of Pet shoppers - shopper volume only grew by 1.17% in 2023. There are less category shoppers overall, and less consumers defined as new pet parents.*

Despite fewer shoppers entering the category, existing pet parents are doting on their pets with non-essential purchases.

Of existing pet parents shopping the category in 2023, 9% were considered “doting pet parents” (+2pts vs. 2022) who make non-essential purchases for their pets (e.g. premium natural food).  This category of shoppers spends 2x more than the average pet parent.

What does this mean for you?

Driving transaction frequency among existing and high-value customers is essential to increasing sales long-term, especially when the category competition is fierce. 

Download the full insight bulletin, and let’s chat about how Cardlytics can help drive your pet loyalty efforts. Email to get started.

Cardlytics State of Spend Report April 2024: UK Dining Trends

UK Consumers are feeling the pinch, investigating how an increased cost-of-living is driving key swings in consumer behaviour.
6 Minute Read


Cardlytics helps brands understand and respond to the biggest trends in consumer behaviour, supported by spending insight from over 20 million UK bank accounts. 

In this report, we have analysed eating and drinking habits to understand how restaurants, from quick-service to fine-dining, as well as lunch spots, coffee shops and casual chains, have been impacted by the prolonged high cost-of-living. Are we still a nation addicted to coffee? Are pizza shops still hitting the spot with consumers? Are bakeries and burger chains suffering as many consumers look to embrace healthier choices??    

To help brands better understand how consumers are reacting to this extended period of high inflation, we’ve tackled all of these topics, analysing Cardlytics purchase intelligence data and providing insight and advice for brands on supporting and continuing to attract customers in today’s operating environment. 

Pizza shops getting the chop as consumers shift to alternative fast-food options   

Takeaway pizza chains are losing ground in the quick service restaurant (QSR) sector, as consumers continue to move away from pizza in favour of alternative fast-food options. 

Despite the average transaction value (ATV) at pizza restaurants increasing by only 11% between 2022 and 2024 (compared to a 21% rise in chicken shops and 18% at fast-food restaurants), diners have cut the number of visits to popular pizza takeaway chains by 20% over the same period.

This is significantly greater than the 4% reduction in visits to fast-food restaurants and 7% drop seen by chicken shops during the same period. It shows that, despite the widely reported impact of inflation on spending habits and a general rise in ATV across the QSR sector, consumers haven’t been entirely deterred from discretionary spending on the odd takeaway.

In fact, fast-food restaurants saw a 13% rise in spending between 2022 and 2024, whilst chicken shops saw an 11% increase. Comparatively, takeaway pizza restaurants saw a reduction in spending by 12%.

It appears, therefore, that despite tightening purse-strings, consumers are reluctant to forgo spending money on fast-food and chicken shops but are willing to sacrifice the occasional pizza. 

Why might this be? Perhaps it’s due to the increasing availability of similar quality products at more affordable price points in supermarkets, or it could be as a result of a growing variety of fast-food and chicken shop chains in the UK market. In any eventuality, pizza shops face a unique set of challenges that they must overcome, if they are to regain market share in the QSR sector. 

Cardlytics analysis

For pizza brands, there is a clear task at hand to ensure that they remain competitive in an increasingly busy QSR sector.

Consumers are faced with a growing number of takeout options to choose from, with chicken shop and fast-food chains from around the world recognising the opportunity available in the UK market. The rollout of up-and-coming fast-food restaurants is a clear indication of the growing choice consumers have from chains that,  when compared to 10 years ago, had little to no market presence in the UK.

In tandem, established players in the QSR sector are recognising the need to deploy more creative and effective marketing campaigns to gain a competitive edge and drive engagement amongst consumers. This has been the case amongst fast-food and chicken shop chains, where spending amongst consumers has continued to increase despite rising inflation, whereas pizza chains have suffered a significant reduction in footfall by 20%.

The data shows that, despite the macroeconomic headwinds, there is a sustained appetite for takeaway food in the QSR sector. Marketers should therefore emphasise rewarding consumers with the best possible deals to gain a competitive advantage in what is, and continues to be, a heavily saturated market. 

Coffee and quick ‘city lunch’ culture on the wane, while on-the-go bakeries see boost as cost-of-living continues to bite

As the cost-of-living continues to remain high, and disposable incomes still stretched due to unrelentingly high-interest rates, many commuting office-goers are being forced to modify their spending habits.

In fact, the broader macroeconomic challenges have had a significant impact on ‘city’ lunch brands, causing prices to hike. The knock-on effect of this on consumers is clear to see, with the average costs per transaction up 5%. This has caused consumers to seek cheaper alternatives, leading to a 9% reduction in the number of transactions made across the year, whilst overall spending has reduced by 4%. 

A similar trend can be seen in spending at high-end coffee shops, a sector which saw a 14% drop in visits. This is a higher figure than the 9% drop in visits to chain coffee shops – which saw a 5% reduction in total customer spending.

Interestingly, this is not a trend that has affected the on-the-go bakery sector, with companies such as Greggs experiencing a 4% rise in spending for the year. This did not correlate with a proportionate increase in trips to such bakeries, which saw a 1% rise. This suggests either loyalty to the brands as a result of their consistent pricing, or perhaps resulting from customers shifting from the more expensive coffee or city lunch spots to more cost-effective alternatives. 

When considered together, these trends tell an interesting story of consumers becoming increasingly conscious of their spending and subsequently moving away from more costly options to more affordable choices. 

It is certainly feasible these statistics reflect a wider shift in habits, with many commuters now opting to bring in their own lunches and source cheaper coffee options (perhaps within their offices), and typically buying food and drink at more affordable dining spots where necessary. This remains a key trend to keep an eye on as the post-covid, hybrid working era is challenged by ‘return to the office’ protocols introduced by companies and the public sector. 

Cardlytics analysis

Commuters and city workers are key consumers for coffee shops, inner-city lunch spots, and on-the-go bakeries, so it’s important to keep an eye on how these trends continue to develop and what impact these changes may have. 

Crucially, for these brands – who regularly interact with their customers – data will be key. If the behaviours of their customers are changing, what do those changes look like? Are people opting only for a sandwich and sourcing their coffee elsewhere? Perhaps customers for whom a pastry was a daily purchase are now only buying them once-a-week as a treat? Looking at an individual’s data, and using that to create tailored offers, not only shows that your brand cares, but also helps to put the right offer in front of them at the right time. 

Then, by offering incentives to customers on the days of the week they are most likely to visit the store or buy a particular item, consumers are far more likely to become repeat customers. This  becomes particularly pronounced as people continue to limit their spending in the era of high inflation and an ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Casual and upscale dining both drop off while burger chains see a hike 

Dining out is often one of the first areas of discretionary spend households look to reduce when their finances are stretched. With interest rates still at a high threshold, disposable incomes are still being spread thin for many. 

It is with this backdrop that the number of transactions within casual dining restaurants has dropped 13% year-on-year. This followed a small 2% growth in transactions between 2022 and 2023. 

However, despite the decline in trips to restaurants this year, consumers who are eating out are spending 7% more per transaction compared with the same time period in 2023. This is likely as a result of inflation hiking prices, increasing the average spend per transaction. Overall, casual dining has seen a 7% decline in  total spend by consumers. 

As purse-strings continue to tighten, upscale dining has seen a significant decline of 11% relating to trips to restaurants. With consumers clearly being more cost conscious than in recent memory, many appear to have reduced visits to more upscale restaurants in a bid to save money.

On the flip-side, burger chains – such as Honest Burger, Patty & Bun and Byron – have seen a massive 17% hike in transaction volume in the last 12 months. This has coincided with a 6% growth in the amount spent per transaction on average, contributing to an overall 12% growth in spend in burger chains this year. 

The reasons behind this could vary, numerous establishments have launched their own vegan and healthier-option burgers and  menus, for example, as well as the restaurants potentially representing a solid ‘middle ground’ for households, or an alternative between fast-food and fine-dining. 

Cardlytics analysis

The eat-in dining industry, from casual to  up-market, is still being impacted by the ongoing high cost-of-living. Whether it’s more regular purchases like a quick coffee or lunch, or something more meaningful, like a celebratory meal, customer scrutiny on spend remains high. 

For brands to continue to navigate this challenging  economic environment, clever use of data will be instrumental. This is particularly important for brands  which interact  frequently with customers,  such as coffee shops and quick service restaurants. For these brands, it is now important to  meaningfully consider what their customer data is telling them.  Which habits do their customers have? Is it a lunchtime treat every Friday? A sweet treat with their coffee as a midweek pick-me-up? 

Inspecting an individual’s data to create tailored offers shows that you understand and care about giving your customers the best  value for the brands on which they want to spend money . For most brands, the key will be offering introductory discounts to entice new customers , and longer-term personalised rewards to secure return visits.

Craving more? Click through here for access to our bite size infographic


Cardlytics analysed spending trends based on its purchase intelligence data, which covers over 20 million UK bank accounts. The periods include January and February spending from the last four years (2024, 2023, 2022, 2021).  

Going that extra mile

Holiday makers are increasingly seeking more affordable travel destinations as the impact of the cost-of-living crisis continues to tighten purse strings.
6 Minute Read

Here to stay(cation)

According to recent Cardlytics data, we found that UK staycations will be most popular among holiday makers, with nearly half (44%) of those planning to go on holiday this year opting to stay local, compared to short-haul (38%) and long-haul (24%) destinations. Holiday lettings providers like Airbnb and Vrbo have also seen increased transaction volumes maintain year-on-year. Transaction volumes a year ago (December 2022 into January 2023) hiked 54% year-on-year, reaching 60,353 transactions, with similarly high levels this year (58,562 transactions) indicating a shift from more expensive hotel bookings.

Tour de Force

Tour operator providers such as Tui, Virgin Holidays and Jet2 have seen a continuation of their post-Covid revival, with transaction volumes growing 7% year-on-year, after a massive 61% growth against the previous period (December 2021 into January 2022). This is a further indicator of travellers seeking value where they can.

Airlines take off

Alongside those seeking to stay local, airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic also saw a rise in spending, with overall spending up 13% year-on-year, and transaction volumes up 15% in the same time period. This indicates those that can afford longer-haul destinations are prioritising doing so, as the high cost-of-living shows signs of easing. Budget airlines also saw a 3% rise in spending, with the volume of transactions up 2% year-
According to Hannah Collins, Partnership Director, Travel: “We are continuing to see the real effect the cost-of-living crisis is having on travel spending, with the increase in domestic holiday bookings demonstrating the focus on finding more affordable getaway options. “That said, people are on the hunt for their ideal 2024 holiday – they’re just seeking the best possible deals and promotions on the market. With that in mind, travel brands and booking sites need to ensure they’re offering the most targeted and personalised discounts and rewards to ensure they continue to attract and retain customers to drive incremental growth in what’s set to be another tough operating environment this year.”

Download our infographic here.

Cardlytics data is based on spending from over 20 million UK bank accounts. This data is based on spending between (unless stated): The four weeks leading up to 8th January of each year:

  • This year (2023/24): 7th December 2023 – 8th January 2024
  • Last year (2022/23): 8th December 2022 – 7th January 2023
  • 2021/22: 9th December 2021 – 6 th January 2022

The poll was conducted by Opinium, based on a sample of 2,000 adults between 12-16th January 2024.

‘Tis the season: How can UK grocers drive up sales as we get closer to Christmas?

6 Minute Read

The ‘golden quarter’ is a critical trading period for grocery retailers. A celebratory time of year, grocers typically get a boost from shoppers socialising more and preparing for Christmas. However, this year has brought a fresh set of challenges as consistently high inflation has put a dampener on consumer confidence and tightened wallets.

With interest rates still high, the cost-of-living crisis has continued to impact purchasing trends. But what does this mean for the grocery market? How will overall grocery sales, and shopper habits, affect grocers Christmas draws ever closer?

Our new grocery spending report is based on spending analysis from over 20 million UK bank accounts, as well as polling of over 2,000 UK adults. It offers insight for retailers as we head into the final stretch of the golden quarter and offers strategies for enhancing customer loyalty at this critical time.

Discount Christmas?

Our research shows that consumers are increasingly turning to discounters and loyalty schemes as they face the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.  In fact, our polling suggests that the average shopper has seen their grocery bills increase by £644 this year.

In response to heightened costs, consumers are seeking discounts: over a quarter have turned to loyalty and reward schemes (28%) and online discount codes (26%), while 22% are browsing price comparison sites and a fifth of consumers are using cashback offers (20%) to manage expenses.

This search for value is also translating to what people are buying and from where. Almost two in five consumers are buying more own-brand supermarket products, and a quarter are switching to cheaper brands and discount chains. As Christmas approaches, 26%plan to cut back on presents, while 22% have curtailed big-ticket purchases.

As we approach Christmas, grocery spend is anticipated to rise as families opt for home-based celebrations, driven by ongoing high living costs.

Harnessing the trend of savvy shoppers, discount grocery retailers have undoubtedly benefited from a reputation for value, as well as a focus on deals and personalised offers. As a result, they’ve grown at a faster rate than the traditional ‘big four’ grocers. Discount grocery stores saw transactions increase by 2% between June and September this year, with consumer spend also increasing by 6%.

The big four supermarkets have seen a 5% increase in spend but a 4% decrease in transactions, signifying a shift to cheaper alternatives.

The run-up to Christmas represents an opportunity for the bigger supermarkets to reverse this movement. But doing so will require them to be smart with the way they market their food and drink. Leveraging the data and insights on customer preferences will be important to entice customers back as they start making bigger ticket purchases for parties and the all-important festive meals with friends and family.

Are you a grocer looking to get customers back through the door this festive period? Cardlytics offers extensive insight and marketing support for retailers, with access to spending data from over 20 million UK bank accounts.

By providing this ‘whole wallet view’ to grocers, you benefit from a deeper understanding of the competitive landscape and implement precise, targeted marketing that delivers tangible results. Heading into the final stretch of the Golden Quarter, we’re helping our customers leverage this data to drive incremental sales growth and retention, as consumers look to find the most value for money with their Christmas spending.

[Video] Lyft x Cardlytics: Using Data-Driven Marketing to Grow Share

VIDEO: Cardlytics recently took the stage with Lyft at eTail East in Boston, MA to explore how marketers can elevate their approach to growth marketing and stay ahead of data deprecation.
6 Minute Read

Cardlytics recently took the stage with Lyft at eTail East in Boston, MA to explore how marketers can elevate their approach to growth marketing and stay ahead of data deprecation. 

Within the ever-changing retail and DTC industry, marketing leaders need to be able to demonstrate the impact that their advertising spend is having on revenue generation and corporate strategy.  Kevin Hsu, Director, Growth Marketing at Lyft and Nate Bucholz, Vice President, Advertising Partnerships at Cardlytics discussed how leveraging a data-drive approach to growth marketing drives measurable revenue for the rideshare leader. 

Watch the full video below!

Looking to explore how Cardlytics Purchase Insights can help you engage customers in a one-of-a-kind native ad platform? Get started.

Make the Holiday Season Sweet: 2023 Holiday Infographic

Cardlytics’ analysis of almost $380B in consumer holiday spend over the last 3 years keeps marketers informed on how to win this holiday season as shopping behaviors change YoY.
6 Minute Read

Sleigh this Holiday Shopping Season

The 2023 holiday season is just around the corner, and this year consumers will be headed to their favorite online and in-store brands earlier than ever! 

As we gear up for the 2023 holiday season, Cardlytics' comprehensive analysis of nearly $380 billion in consumer holiday spending over the past three years equips marketers with essential insights to win more during this critical period. Access our full 2023 Holiday Infographic here

Decoding the 2023 Holiday Analysis

Holiday 2022 witnessed a 3% drop compared to the previous year, attributed to reduced spending per customer, fewer transactions per customer, and slower growth in average transaction size. Given the lingering economic challenges from the previous year, brands need inventive strategies to incentivize consumer spending during this holiday season.

Interestingly, a shift in spending behavior has been observed, with holiday spend moving back to brick-and-mortar retailers from online channels. This contrasts with the Back-to-School analysis by Cardlytics, which saw online spending was up for both B&M.coms and online only brands. This shift underscores the significance of an omni-channel approach, ensuring that brands are present where consumers choose to shop, whether in-store or online.

Early Birds and Mass Merchandisers

An intriguing trend emerging from the analysis is the increasing percentage of spending occurring within the initial three weeks of the holiday season year over year. Consumers are diving into their shopping lists earlier and earlier, demanding that brands engage with them during this period.

When it comes to dominating the holiday market share, Mass Merchandisers are the frontrunners, holding a whopping 58% of the total wallet share. As consumers grow more price-conscious, Mass Merchandisers are poised to leverage this shift in consumer behavior to their advantage. The Apparel category is also gaining momentum, presenting an opportunity for brands to bolster their presence and profits.

Unwrap the secret to success with Cardlytics 

Through strategic partnerships with banks, Cardlytics possesses an extraordinary advantage - access to the transaction data of over 186 million consumers. This invaluable resource empowers brands with a detailed understanding of consumer purchasing patterns, offering a holistic view of when, where, and how people shop.

The holiday season is approaching rapidly, and with it comes the opportunity for retail brands to acquire new customers and grow loyalty with existing shoppers. In this competitive landscape, making informed decisions is crucial to stand out from the crowd. That's where Cardlytics comes into play, providing real insights from real bank customers to support retail brands in navigating the complexities of the upcoming holiday season. Get started today.

Customers squeeze value from holidays with spend up on staycations and budget flights

6 Minute Read
  • The cost-of-living crisis sees the return of the staycation with spend up 20% on domestic holidays
  • Tighter budgets have seen travellers swap to budget airlines with the number of trips for these brands increasing 23% year-on-year
  • Brits have been looking for ways to save with a massive 50% increase in offers and rewards claimed on travel purchases compared to last year

Consumers haven’t cut back on their holidays but are looking for cheaper options and deals as the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, according to new data from advertising platform Cardlytics.

The data, based on transactions from over 20 million UK bank accounts, shows that the number of holidays booked between April and June increased 7% on last year. However, average spend on travel across the board has flatlined. With just a 1% increase in average transaction values year-on-year, it seems that consumers are looking for ways to get away without breaking the bank.

For many this means holidaying closer to home, with staycations on the rise as domestic holiday spend increases 20% year on year. After a boom during the pandemic, UK-based getaways are back on the map with the number of trips up 40% when compared to the first quarter of this year, and up a further 4% on the same time period in 2022.

For those looking to go further afield for less, budget airlines have been the way to go. Average spend at these airlines has increased by 3% compared to last year. Whilst some of this can be attributed to increasing prices, the number of trips people have booked with these brands has followed a similar trajectory, rising a massive 23% compared to 2022. As travelers trade down, long-haul airlines have seen slower growth in the number of bookings at just 2% increase year-on-year. Whilst average spend with these brands has seen an uptick of 6% since last year, the lower number of trips indicates this increase is likely due to fuel increases and inflation leading to increased costs.

Getting the best rewards and discounts is top of mind for consumers looking to save on their summer travel, as cashback redemptions on these purchases see a 50% increase between April and June compared to last year.

Many holidaymakers have turned to package deals for not only value but convenience. Whilst average spend is down 2% year-on-year, the number of package holidays booked is up 13% on last year showing that consumers are still purchasing these deals, but they’re looking for the cheapest options.

Reinforcing that trend, online travel agents have also seen growth, with the number of trips booked up 22% on last year. This is coincided with a 5% rise on average transaction values, with inflation likely the cause behind this.

Hannah Collins at Cardlytics said: “With the summer break well under way, we are now starting to see the real effect the cost-of-living crisis is having on consumer travel spending. Whilst it’s positive that people are still booking getaways, price is becoming an increasingly important differentiator. Travel brands need to show they understand customer needs with tailored discounts and rewards in the channels they use most to encourage spend. This will be key in attracting those seeking a last-minute summer deal or a cheaper Autumn break.”


Cardlytics data is based on spending from over 20 million UK bank accounts. This data is based on spending between (unless stated):

  • 30th March – 29th June 2023
  • 31st March – 30th June 2022

About Cardlytics

Cardlytics (NASDAQ: CDLX) is a digital advertising platform. We partner with financial institutions to run their banking rewards programs that promote customer loyalty and deepen banking relationships. In turn, we have a secure view into where and when consumers are spending their money. We use these insights to help marketers identify, reach, and influence likely buyers at scale, as well as measure the true sales impact of marketing campaigns. Headquartered in Atlanta, Cardlytics has offices in Palo Alto, New York, Los Angeles, and London. Learn more at

New year’s resolutions hike health and fitness subscriptions in January but tighter budgets restrict year-on-year spend

6 Minute Read
  • January saw gym subscriptions increase 14% and balanced meal kits rise by 11% compared to December as consumers look to kick off a healthier new year
  • Gym subscriptions have remained resilient seeing year-on-year spend increase 12%
  • But meal-kits, fruit and vegetable delivery boxes and at-home gym plans have all seen weaker spend compared to January 2022 as consumers cut back on non-essentials

New year’s resolutions drive an increase in spending on health and fitness subscriptions in January, but overall spend is down year-on-year driven by cost-of-living cutbacks, according to new data from digital advertising platform, Cardlytics.

New spend data from over 24 million UK bank accounts revealed that spending on gym subscriptions increased 14%, whilst at home workout plans and healthy meal kits both rose by 11% between December and January.

Traditional gyms have come out on top with continued increases in spend year-on-year, rising 12% from January 2022. But the same can’t be said for all health and fitness related subscriptions as consumers reign in their spending amid the cost-of living crisis.

Despite the expected month-on-month increase in January as people kick off their healthy habits for 2023, tighter budgets mean that demand for at home gym plans has declined when compared to last year, with spending falling 25%.

New year means new members for gyms - but at-home subscriptions face a decline

Fitness goals have long been a part of new year’s resolutions for many, and this year has been no different. Traditional gyms such as David Lloyd and LA Fitness saw a 13% increase in transactions when compared to December which drove an 18% uptick in overall spend.

But whilst gym subscriptions are on the up, at-home fitness subscriptions face a decline. The pandemic drove a boom in sign-ups with transactions increasing 1070% since 20191 however this success has been difficult to maintain and spend this January is down 25% on last year as consumers leave behind their living room workouts.

Meal kits remain convenient for the health conscious

Healthier eating is always top of the agenda in January, and one of the easiest ways for people to switch up their diets is with balanced meal kits - which saw an 11% rise on December. However, compared to last year, balanced meal plans, and grocery delivery boxes are down, as spending on fruit and vegetable boxes fell 16% whilst meal kits fell 9% on January 2022.

Since 2019, meal plan subscriptions such as Hello Fresh, Mindful Chef and Gousto have seen an astronomic growth in popularity with spend rising by 379%2. But this trajectory may have reached its turning point as consumers cut-back on nonessentials with spend declining 9% compared to January last year.

Grocery boxes of fruit and vegetable deliveries have faced similar difficulties when it comes to subscriptions as the cost-of-living crisis drives up the price of produce. Spend fell 20% between December and January and is down 16% on last year.

January typically represents a clean slate for consumers who use the new year as an opportunity to not only set goals but also assess their finances and evaluate areas to cut back.

The convenience of subscriptions allows brands to capitalise on such resolutions but this year’s dampened spending, particularly across the health and fitness space, could provide an indication of what retailers can expect in 2023.

Brands need to recognise and understand changing consumer needs in the face of rising costs, offering tailored promotions, cashback and discounts on the subscriptions that matter most, to help build loyalty in the long term."

Sharina Mutreja, Partnerships Director, UK

About Cardlytics

Cardlytics (NASDAQ: CDLX) is a digital advertising platform. We partner with financial institutions to run their rewards programs that promote customer loyalty and deepen relationships. In turn, we have a secure view into where and when consumers are spending their money. We use these insights to help marketers identify, reach, and influence likely buyers at scale, as well as measure the true sales impact of marketing campaigns. Headquartered in Atlanta, Cardlytics has offices in Palo Alto, Los Angeles, New York and London. Learn more at

1 Transactions in January 2019 compared to the same period in January 2023

2 Spend in January 2019 compared to the same period in January 2023

Travel industry bucks trend to show increased spend in first quarter

The travel industry has shaken off stagnation, showing growth in the first three months of this year according to new data from digital advertising platform, Cardlytics.
6 Minute Read

The travel industry has shaken off stagnation, showing growth in the first three months of this year according to new data from digital advertising platform, Cardlytics.

New spend data from over 24 million UK bank accounts for the period 1 st January to 31 st March 2023 has revealed that spend on flights and holidays has risen 27% in the first three months of this year compared with 2022, an increase of 40% from pre-pandemic levels.

For airlines, the number of transactions rose by 36% year-on-year between 1 st January and 31 st March 2023, while bookings for package holidays were up by over a quarter (27%) over the same period.

However, as consumers continue to feel the impact of rising inflation, there are signs that people are seeking out budget-friendly options. Low-cost airlines saw spend rising at a faster rate than the rest of the industry, up 42% year-on-year in Q1, compared with a 29% increase for other airlines.

At the same time, the number of people redeeming discounts and offers through their bank accounts for travel purchases rose sharply at 79% year-on-year as customers look for deals and offers to mitigate the impact of rising prices.

Whilst spend is on the rise, average transaction values have grown at a slower rate than inflation, indicating that consumers are seeking out cheaper alternatives for holidays and looking for lower-cost deals. The average amount people spent on standard flights fell by 2% year-on-year to £342.69, while spend on budget airlines grew by 12% to £137.50. Package holidays grew by 7% year-on-year to an average of £538.68 per transaction.

Shifting away from pandemic habits

Last year’s travel disruption has left an impact on consumer purchase habits with cancellations and refund difficulties, leading to the number of travel purchases made through comparison sites falling 12% in 2022. Whilst aggregators have seen a slight recovery in the first quarter of 2023, transactions are still down 2% on pre-pandemic figures.

In contrast, direct bookings through providers have increased compared to pre-pandemic levels, with transactions directly through airlines increasing 50%, while package holidays have seen a 41% growth in transactions since 2020.

The pandemic saw the rise of the domestic holiday – quickly dubbed the ‘staycation’ – and transactions at UK holiday providers such as Parkdean, Centreparcs, Butlins and Haven Holidays peaking last year, with 692,000 transactions in the first three months of 2022. In contrast, this year transactions on such trips fell by 23%. International package holidays grew by 27% over the same period, as people swapped local breaks for more exotic destinations.

Mike Glegg, VP of Sales at Cardlytics, commented:

“The travel industry will be buoyed by strong consumer spend in the first quarter of 2023 following a turbulent few years of lockdowns, cancellations and delays.

“It’s encouraging to see increased confidence in bookings despite tighter budgets and rising prices, but aggregators will now be looking to capitalise on this and win-back trust from their customer base after last summer’s disruption.

“Travel brands will now need to consider how to reward loyal customers and continue winning new segments of the market. Investing in discounts and loyalty programs will be critical to achieving this, demonstrating their value for consumers, particularly as rising prices continue to constrict budgets.”

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