The UK is Europe’s leading e-commerce nation and considered by many to be the most developed e-commerce market in the world. The country is far above the European average for the number of e-commerce consumers, Internet penetration and, above all, average spend per year. Growth in the number of new online consumers has been below average, at 17 percent between 2014 and 2018, which is to be expected in such a mature market. The products most commonly bought online are clothes and footwear, home electronics, and books.
Pervasive online shopping
UK consumers are active in several niche product categories, which illustrates how widespread and commonplace online shopping has become. People buy everything from flowers to car accessories online. This is the type of consumption that is needed if e-commerce is to carve out serious market shares in the total volume of purchases. One product category that has reached an extreme level, compared to other countries, is food. In the UK, 34 percent of consumers buy food online, much higher than in other European markets.
China and the US top foreign markets to buy from
UK consumers buy from abroad at about the European average, primarily from China and the US. Growth has above all been in purchases from China, which is now the largest market for imports measured in numbers of goods. A factor of relevance with regard to the British buying from abroad will be Brexit, which is likely to affect the UK’s e-commerce exports and imports with Europe.
Olof Källgren, Market Information Manager, Direct Link
PostNord/Direct Link has conducted studies of the European e-commerce market since 2014, presenting its findings in the report “E-commerce in Europe”. The report is based on interviews with consumers in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In a series of blog posts, we will take a closer look at the individual e-commerce markets covered by this year’s “E-commerce in Europe 2018”. The new 2018 report can be ordered free of charge.
For more in-depth information about consumer behavior in the Nordics, you can also order our report “E-commerce in the Nordics”.