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UK shoppers happier buying online from Europe

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UK consumers are becoming more confident buying online from traders in other EU countries, according to the UK European Consumer Centre.

The centre says that the volume of complaints it receives connected to crossborder e-commerce grew more slowly last year.

The number of complaints it deals with rose by 3% in the first five months of 2010, compared to the same period last year. That compares with an 18.5% rise at the same time last year, compared to the previous year.

The service gives consumers advice and support in disputes with merchants elsewhere in Europe and is supported by the Trading Standards Institute.

Jed Mayatt, UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) Manager, said: “It’s uplifting to know that UK consumers appear to be taking the e-commerce revolution on board.”

A 2009 European Commission report on cross-border consumer e-commerce was put at €106bn in 2006, while in 2008 51% of EU retailers sold online. E-commerce was Europe’s fastest-growing retail channel, it said.

However, it also found 60% of cross-border internet shopping orders couldn’t be completed because the trader didn’t ship to their country or offer adequate cross-border payment.

Mayatt said the report showed online shopping was particularly popular in the UK, France and Germany. “UK consumers appear to be taking advantage of the potential that e-commerce has for reshaping the European internal market with regard to price and product-related comparisons,” he said.

Our view: Evidence that it’s getting easier to buy overseas from other European countries has to be a good thing for consumers. But let’s not forget that UK retailers must also make it easy for European shoppers to buy from them, especially while the UK is still seen as a good destination for euro shoppers. That’s something that UK sites are getting better at with more sites, especially fashion sites, offering much wider international deliveries. There’s still, however, much room for improvement.

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