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How European and UK online sales will grow by 2018: Forrester

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European online retail sales will be worth €233.9bn (£189.6bn) by 2018, thanks to compound annual growth of 12% a year between 2013 and 2018, a new study suggests.

Forrester’s European Online Retail Forecast 2013 to 2018 suggests that online grocery sales will see the fastest growth over that period, growing by 16.3% a year to overtake consumer electronics and become the second-largest online category in Europe by 2013. Clothing will remain the largest online sales category through 2018, growing by 11% a year.

In the UK, internet sales will grow from €45.9bn (£37.2bn) in 2013 to €71.0bn (£57.6bn) in 2018, or 9.1% a year, as the proportion of sales made online grows from 12% in 2013 to 15% by 2018.

But the fastest growth will come in southern Europe, where Italian and Spanish super shoppers will emerge and the proportion of sales made online will grow to 4% and 5% respectively. In Spain, the value of internet sales is forecast to grow by 18.6% a year from €4.9bn (£3.97bn) to €11.5bn (£9.3bn) in 2018, and in Italy it’s forecast to grow by 16% a year from €4.7bn (£3.8bn) to €9.97bn (£8.1bn) in 2018.

Growth across Europe will come, forecasts the report, as the percentage of European internet users grows from 65% in 2013 to 75% in 2018 and as more people own internet-connected devices, thanks to the growth of mobile devices and flexible delivery options such as click and collect grow in popularity.

The attraction of online shopping, says report author Michelle Beeson, lies in the broader product assortment. “European consumers shop online for convenience and to gain access to products they can’t find anywhere else,” she said. “However, the vast majority of European retail sales are still transacted in store.”

But barriers to the growth of online shopping remain constant, said Beeson, whether that’s the failure to provide fast and cost-effective delivery or to provide joined-up experiences that reflect the consumer’s move between different devices, or the desire to touch and feel and product before buying.

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