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Impact of Coronavirus on eCommerce: Socially Distant Vacations Give Tourism a Much-Needed Boost

Contentsquare

August 5, 2020 | 4 min read

To provide understanding during this uncertain time, we are monitoring the impact of coronavirus on online consumer behaviors. See the latest data and the impact of Covid-19 on tourism, retail, and more industries on our Covid-19 eCommerce Impact data hub.

It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through summer and more than halfway through the year. We’ve spent almost five months in quarantine, all the while adapting our business strategies to keep up with changing customer behavior and needs as digital was thrust into the spotlight. The eCommerce industry alone has experienced 10 years of growth in just the last three months. If that’s convinced you that you deserve a vacation, you’re not alone.

August is one of the most popular months to take time off, especially in Europe. While the tourism industry was brought to a standstill at the onset of the pandemic, consumers seem more comfortable traveling close to home this summer. For many, cross country flights and exotic destinations are still out of the question, but nearby beaches, lakes, and campgrounds are a responsible compromise. Thanks to travel bans lifting and consumers getting more comfortable with traveling, the hard-hit tourism industry is slowly recovering, according to Contentsquare data.

For the last seven months, we’ve been tracking global digital KPIs each week to see how the pandemic is affecting eCommerce. Using data from over 10 billion user sessions, we’ve been comparing the evolution of traffic, transactions, and engagement data to benchmark data collected before the pandemic hit the U.S. This has given us a better understanding of changing customer behaviors and outlooks, as well as overall digital eCommerce performance. Here’s a look at global KPIs for the week of July 27- August 2: 

 

Global Digital KPIs Stabilize as Consumers Embrace a “New Normal” 

Since our last update, the majority of global KPIs have decreased only slightly. Last week, specifically, traffic decreased by -2.9%, transactions dipped slightly by -0.8%, but conversion rate rose +2.3% week over week.

That said, when compared to pre-Covid data, these same global KPIs are fairing well. Traffic and time per session hover at rates almost identical to pre-Covid figures, while online global transactions and conversion rates are up 19% and 25% compared to pre-Covid performance. The overall stability of the last few weeks of data suggests consumers are settling in to the “new normal” and adopting more predictable digital behaviors.

This week, we’re taking a closer look at the impact of Covid-19 on tourism, an industry hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Here’s what we found:

 

Impact of Covid-19 on Tourism: Local Travel is on The Rise as Consumer Crave a Nearby Escape

While the tourism industry was essentially paralyzed at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s experiencing steady gains. This is in part to people warming up to the idea of summer vacations and needing refuge from the summer heat and crowded cities. We’re especially seeing this trend overseas, as many European countries prepare to take their annual August vacations. 

Increased Site Traffic

February to early May were the worst months for the industry, with traffic dropping 74% and transactions 92% at its lowest point compared to pre-Covid performance. Luckily, traffic and transactions have been on the up and up since May 4. Since then, website traffic has grown in France by 449%, by 407% in the U.K., and by 129% in the U.S. While traffic remains shy of pre-Covid numbers, France’s traffic is inching closer to pre-Covid rates while the U.K. and U.S. still have much ground to make up.

Still, this data is promising for the future of the tourism industry and other hard-hit industries. Clearly, customer sentiment and behavior is shifting. Customers are adjusting to life in the COVID-19 era and getting more comfortable with the idea of venturing outside of their homes and spending money and non-essentials. While people are still taking a cautious approach to travel, let’s hope this trend is a glimpse of a more promising future for the rest of 2020. 

Improved Transaction Rates

Transactions followed a similar trend. While still down -10% in France, -59% in the U.K. and -61% in the U.S. compared to pre-Covid figures, they are slowly improving. Since May, when they reached their lowest point since the start of the pandemic, transactions have actually increased 1141% in France, 224% in the U.K., and 563% in the U.S. 

While each country has seen tremendous growth since early May, these figures seem to directly correspond with their country’s reopening progress. It’s not surprising then that France takes the lead. It’s the furthest along in its reopening plan and has the lowest infection rate of the three. Still, this increase in transactions suggests French consumers are more comfortable traveling and taking vacations—a trend that hopefully will be replicated in other countries as time passes. 

Consumers Favor Nearby Travel Destinations

Our data shows consumers are still reluctant to fly and are instead opting for vacations closer to home. Traffic and transactions for car rentals and train tickets are gaining traction and interest in camping grounds is at an all-time high, jumping 53% since the start of the pandemic as consumers look for travel options that let them get some much needed R&R, while still socially distancing. 

That said, we have seen an increase in traffic to flight booking websites in the last few weeks, but transactions are still down. This suggests consumers are warming up the idea of hopping on a plane in the future, but unable to commit to purchasing tickets as travel bands remain in place across the globe. As travel bans continue to lift, perhaps consumers are itching for their next adventure and researching flights for the future. 

Whatever the cause, we’ll keep an eye on this trend in the coming weeks, so subscribe to the Contentsquare blog for the latest tourism and eComm updates. Or, see the latest data for yourself on the Covid-19 eCommerce Impact Data Hub.