Europe’s online retail sales will double between 2013 and 2019, according to new research from Mintel. Internet sales are expected to increase an impressive 100% from €165 billion in 2013 to €330 billion in 2019. Indeed, in 2014 alone, European online retail sales will surge 17% to reach €193 billion, equivalent to around 7% of all European retail sales (19 countries, excluding Russia.)

And m-commerce looks to be bolstering growth in e-commerce according to Mintel’s exclusive European research, as shopping via a smartphone has now reached 41% of internet users in the UK; only Italy records higher levels of smartphone shopping at 44%. Elsewhere in Europe, smartphone shopping stands at 28% in France, 33% in Germany and 40% in Spain.

Meanwhile, 35% of internet users shop via a tablet in the UK, while on the Continent shopping via tablets ranges from 23% in France and Germany to 26% in Spain and 32% in Italy.  While shopping by these devices can be done on the go, in each of the countries, most of the shopping via smartphones and tablets is done at home. 

John Mercer, Senior European Retail Analyst at Mintel, said:

“M-commerce is bolstering growth in e-commerce; we expect the market to continue to see growth underpinned by both mobile shopping and a general strengthening in total retail sales in Europe. Mintel’s five-country consumer research shows smartphone shopping is already highly adopted in Europe’s biggest markets. Further uptake of shopping by mobile devices, including tablets, will allow more consumers to shop anytime, anywhere – and this is a key factor pushing up e-commerce growth rates. Economic recovery, and a general improvement in overall retail sales, is another.”

“While the research shows a high proportion of tablet shopping is done at home rather than on the go, these devices are still making online shopping an easier, more attractive option for consumers even if they are ‘sofa shopping’ rather than buying on the move. So increased ownership of tablets is still likely to bolster online sales growth.” John continues.

Germany is top by online sales values 

Overall, the big northwestern economies continue to dominate Europe’s e-commerce market: Germany (27%), the UK (24%) and France (17%) in total account for almost 70% of the continent’s internet retail sales. 

While Germany leads in terms of sales values, participation rates in e-commerce are highest in the UK: as many as 95% of internet users shop online in the UK, followed by 91% in Germany, 88% in Italy, 87% in France and 84% in Spain. Clothing and footwear is comfortably the most popular category by the number of shoppers:some 70% of UK internet shoppers have bought clothing and footwear online in the past 12 months, followed by 68% of German internet shoppers, 58% of French internet shoppers, 52% of Italian shoppers and 50% of Spanish shoppers.

In each of the five major markets, hard-copy entertainment products (books, DVDs etc) are still more popular than their download equivalents, when measured by shopper numbers – for example 54% of Brits have purchased a hard-copy book, CD, DVD or video games compared to 43% who have downloaded music, video, film and e-books.

But the UK leads in terms of online’s share of all retail

The internet accounts for the highest proportion of all retail sales in the UK: in 2014, a little over 11% of UK retail sales will be online. As well as high participation in non-food shopping online, the UK online market size is boosted by a substantial online grocery market which makes up fully 19% of the UK e-commerce market. The UK is followed by Germany (10%) and Norway (8%) which see the next highest contribution of internet sales to all national retail sales.

“There remains a north/south division in e-commerce: the highest penetration of internet retailing is seen in affluent, northern European countries, while in southern Europe, traditional, store-based retailing accounts for the overwhelming majority of retail sales. The share of all retail accounted for by e-commerce is pushed up in the UK by its relatively mature online grocery market. And, in contrast, the proportion of all retail going online in Germany is depressed a little by the near-absence of a serious online grocery market.” continues John.

Norway tops per capita spend

Overall, the average European retail sale per capita in 2014 is expected to be €409. And in terms of internet retail sales per capita, the top three performers are Norway at €925, Switzerland at €745 and the UK at  €725.

One to watch: Poland set for strong growth

Finally, while Poland accounts for just 2% of the continent’s total e-commerce sales, this is a strong market for total retail growth and the country is expected to continue to be one of Europe’s fastest-growing e-commerce markets – albeit from a small base. Between 2014 and 2019, Poland’s compound annual growth rate is expected to be an impressive 13%. 

Mintel’s E-Commerce Europe 2014 report is available to purchase priced £2,895.

Press review copies of the report and interviews with John Mercer are available on request from the press office. 

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