European online retail sales forecast to double by 2019 with m-commerce driving growth

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Online retail sales will double in Europe by 2019 with this year alone seeing a 17% surge, new research from Mintel shows, as m-commerce plays a significant role in the growth. The €165bn sales figure achieved in 2013 will grow to €330bn by 2019, while 2014’s total online revenue is expected to come in at €193bn, the equivalent of around 7% of all European retail sales. “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,” said John Mercer, senior European retail analyst at Mintel.

Italy has the highest number of internet users using a smartphone to shop at 44%, with the UK next with 41%, Spain with 40%, Germany with 33% and France with 28%. Meanwhile, 35% of internet users shop via a tablet in the UK, while that figure is 23% in France and Germany, 26% in Spain and 32% in Italy.

“Mintel’s five-country consumer research shows smartphone shopping is already highly adopted in Europe’s biggest markets,” said Mercer. “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,” Mercer said.

Clothing and footwear is the most popular category bought online, with 70% of UK internet shoppers having bought it online in the past 12 months. In Germany that figure is 68%, while in France it is 58%, in Italy 52% and in Spain 50%.

And the UK leads in the overall proportion of retail sales that are conducted online at just over 11%, bolstered by a strong grocery market which makes up 19% of the total e-commerce sector in the country. Online sales in Germany, meanwhile, make up 10% of its retail sales, while Norway is the next highest with 8%.

“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,” said Mercer. “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.”

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