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Online retail sales to grow 11% a year across EU for next five years

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Online retail within the largest European Union nations in Western Europe will grow at an 11% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years, reaching a total value of €114 billion by 2014, according to a new forecast from Forrester Research.

The US will also see double-digit growth over the same period, says Forrester, although at a slightly lower rate of 10% a year, to reach just under $249 billion by 2014.

“Much of the overall retail sector’s growth in both the US and the EU over the next five years will come from the internet,” says Forrester Research’s Sucharita Mulpuru. “To maximize that growth, ebusiness professionals will have to help enable a multichannel strategy that responds to consumers’ increased desire to hop between the offline and online worlds and their increasing mobile and social behaviors. The retail innovators over the next five years will demonstrate customer enablement across all touchpoints, not just via a PC-based web browser.”

Despite consumers’ increasing use of the Web to research products before purchasing, most retailers still fall short on offering a seamless cross-channel experience, say the analysts. According to Forrester’s data, while 82% of US online consumers are satisfied with buying experiences that began and ended in a store, satisfaction drops to 61% for consumers who began their research online and purchased in a store.

Forrester’s European Union forecast encompasses 17 Western European nations and includes a country-by-country breakdown of online retail across the seven largest markets: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

Highlights of Forrester’s ‘Western European Online Retail Forecast, 2009-2014’ include:

  • Increased online tenure, improved access, and greater promotion by retailers will drive the number of online shoppers in Europe from 141 million in 2009 to 190 million by 2014. The average spend per online shopper will rise from €483 in 2009 to €601 in 2014.

  • Books, event tickets, and clothing are the top three categories purchased online in the majority of Western Europe.

  • Among the three largest EU markets, online retail will grow at a 10% CAGR over the next five years in the UK; 9% in Germany; and 13% in France.



“There is a clear divide between the countries of northern and southern Europe regarding online retail adoption,” explains Forrester’s Patti Freeman Evans. “While nearly half of UK residents regularly make a purchase online, a mere 10% of online Spaniards and 11% of online Italians do so today. Still, with compound annual growth rates approaching 20% in markets like Spain, emerging European ecommerce markets are poised for a vigorous period of growth.”

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