New data from Affinity Solutions indicates US travel spend has returned to pre-pandemic levels

WHO: Affinity Solutions, the leading consumer purchase insights company.

WHAT: Affinity Solutions’ Consumer Purchase Insights, based on actual credit card, debit card and transaction data, observed from January 2019 to June 2023:

•  Travel purchases rebound: The percentage of unique travel shoppers totaled 11.7% in 2019, with total spend reaching 4.5%. The category saw significant declines during the COVID-19 pandemic, with total spend falling to 2.5% in 2020. The category bounced back in 2022, with unique shoppers reaching 12% and total spend hitting 3.9%.

•  Average spend per transaction hit pre-pandemic levels: The average spend per travel transaction reached $244.97 in 2022, which is in line with pre-pandemic levels, where the average spend was $219.38.

•  Consumer travel dollars went to transportation: From July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, transportation was the leading spending category, comprising 39.8% of all travel purchases. Lodging ranked second at 34.9% followed by travel agencies (13.4%), cruises (8.3%) and entertainment (3.3%).

•  Flying is the most popular mode of transportation: When looking at transportation spend specifically, airlines dominated the category at 81.9%. Comparatively, car rentals totaled 17.1%, while passenger railways and bus lines hit 0.9% and 0.04% respectively. Cardholders invest $288.89 per transaction on average in air travel, with each unique traveler purchasing 2.1 times annually.

•  Spring break and summer kick-off: March and June 2023 were peak spending seasons, with each seeing a 9.7% share in travel spending. July 2022 and April 2023 came in at 8.8%.

•  Traveling through the ages: Baby Boomers make up the majority of travel spending, at 53%, followed by Gen X (28%) and Millennials (19%). Baby Boomers spend on average $297.79 per travel transaction, which is 11% higher than the average. Comparatively, Gen Xers spend $257.79 per transaction, while Millennials spend $206.95.

“Our dataset shows clearly that US consumers are returning to pre-pandemic travel habits,” said Damian Garbaccio, Chief Business and Marketing Officer at Affinity Solutions. “Brands should look to capitalize on this renewed enthusiasm by providing a personalized experience based on real-life demographics and behavior to drive business outcomes.”

Methodology: The insights have been derived through the advanced data analytics capabilities of Affinity Solutions. Affinity empowers this exploration of U.S. travel trends by providing unparalleled access to CometTM, its powerful data-led intelligence platform. CometTM takes fully permissioned transaction data from over 140 million debit and credit cards and turns it into actionable insights for marketers, consultancies, and financial services companies.

This infographic begins with a panoramic view, spanning four years of travel spending, from 2019 to 2022. Then, the report zooms in, providing a close examination of the most recent 12 months ending June 30, 2023, to reveal the freshest insights.