The UK has been called a nation of shopkeepers – but we’re also a nation of online shoppers.
Research by Emarketer shows Brits are the world’s biggest digital spenders, when the country’s size is taken into account. Last year, commercial sales soared 14.4 per cent to £77.35 billion – nearly three times higher than the second largest Western European market, Germany. Consumers spend more money online per person than any other country in the world.
What’s more, this growth is set to continue, with a solid 13.4 per cent growth predicted in 2013.
It seems that the way we shop has changed dramatically in the last few years. Online retailers such as Amazon, Easyjet and Asos.com make it easier than ever to buy books, clothes and holidays from the comfort of our sofas.
Customers have embraced the convenience of swapping supermarket trolleys for virtual baskets at Asda and Tesco. And High Street retailers such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer have successful made the transition into cyberspace.
The average British digital shopper spent £2385 in 2012, up from £2198 in 2011. According to eMarketer, this growth was fuelled by strong demand for food and clothing – and helped by a strong offering by British retailers, who are pouring resources into slick websites and online customer service.
Australia was second in the league table, with the average spend per digital buyer just behind the UK at £2529. Other strong performers were Scandinavian countries, with Norway and Denmark in the top five. The United States was only in fourth place when it came to individual spending.
The UK’s spending is more than twice the average for Western Europe. But there are signs that other countries could be catching up. Surprisingly, the tough economic conditions in Italy and Spain appear to be driving up ecommerce sales. Both countries saw strong growth in 2012, as budget-conscious consumers took to the internet to hunt for bargains.
Germany is another fast-growing e-market. Although Brits are the biggest spenders, Germany has more digital buyers, and this number is set to continue growing. Despite France’s traditional shopping culture (and initial resistence to globalisation and hypermarches) its online shopping market is expected to grow over the next few years.
Of course, most consumers prefer to make purchases in their own language. Research by the European Commission found 82 per cent were reluctant to buy goods over the internet without information in their mother tongue.