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Ecommerce is surging across Europe – report

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Europe continues to account for the largest share of the global business-to-consumer ecommerce market, with the UK leading the way, according to a new survey published by European ecommerce umbrella organisation Ecommerce Europe. Total ecommerce revenues were up by almost a fifth to €311.6bn in 2012.

At the same time, the fastest-growing markets are now Central Europe and the austerity-hit Mediterranean, according to the findings.

Europe – defined by report compilers Ecommerce Europe as including the whole continent rather than the EU alone – continued to maintain a lead over the US, the second largest ecommerce market, which it first overtook in 2010.

In 2012 European ecommerce – including sale values of online retail goods and services such as travel bookings, ticketed events and downloads – grew by 19% to €311.6bn, compared with €294.2bn in North America. The EU comprised 88.7% of that total, or €276.5bn.

The findings showed that during 2012 Europe’s strength in ecommerce continued to be dominated by the UK (€96bn in sales), Germany (€50bn) and France (€45bn). Between them these three markets account for 61% of Europe’s total share of sales.

But while the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway increased their ecommerce sales by between 10% and 15% last year, Germany, France, Italy and Spain reported 20% to 25% growth. Meanwhile the fastest-growing states, with between 30% and 40% growth, included Poland and Greece.

Ecommerce Europe says that 2013 will see a definitive break with the past as the relative share of ecommerce conducted over mobile phones and tablets – rather than conventional computers – reaches new highs.

The mcommerce market accounted for 5.5% of total sales in 2012, the report found, but the share is expected to jump during 2013 as smartphone and tablet ownership rises. In the UK, m-commerce reached 12 per cent of total online sales in 2012, against just 5% at the end of 2011. In Scandinavia the share is currently 8% and in France 2%. In the US, meanwhile, mcommerce is estimated to have reached close to 10% – almost double the size of 2011.

Wijnand Jongen, the executive committee chairman of Ecommerce Europe, said: “In mcommerce it’s clear the Scandinavian countries and the UK are leading. Other countries will follow soon and fast: today 47.6% of all Europeans have a smartphone.”

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