The latest Nielsen ‘Online Retail Monitor’ study has shown travel sector purchases account for 47% of all spending in a flourishing online retail market.

The study, which analysed spending across 16 major retail product categories, showed that around one third of online shoppers bought travel product or services, from flights to hotels to travel products, with an average purchase of $1,168 over the 30-day study period.

A travel retailer’s website was also found to be the biggest influence on a consumer’s brand choice, followed by search engines and comparison websites.

QANTAS led the way in website popularity, with a unique audience of nearly 1.9 million, with 12.76% of all Australian internet users visiting the site at least once in September. Virgin Travel followed with 1.247 million visitors, then with 1.224 million.

Travel purchases that were ultimately made offline were also often influenced by online research. 68% of those purchasing accommodation offline and 62% of offline flight purchases were supported by online research.

Nielsen’s quarterly ‘online retail monitor’ uses an online survey of 1,131 Australian internet users aged 18 and over. It looks at online spending and purchase behaviour and intention, the degree to which online is supporting offline sales and conversions, and more online and mobile shopping behaviour patterns.