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UK businesses sold 16% more online in 2017

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A new ONS study illustrates the scale to which UK companies large and small, and including retailers, have moved to do more of their business over the internet. It compares 2017 figures with 2016 and also looks back to the state of play in 2009.

The study, E-commerce and ICT activity, UK: 2017 found that UK companies from all sectors grew their internet sales by 16% last year. That’s the largest rise the study has detected since 2011.

The study analysed sales that took place online, whether via an ecommerce website or electronic data interchange (EDI), and found that they grew to £560bn in 2017 from £484bn in 2016, among non-financial sector businesses with 10 employees or more. The 16% rise is the largest since 2011, the study suggests. 

The study included companies of all sizes, including micro-businesses with fewer than 10 businesses. 

Website sales

Website sales came to £300bn during the year, when micro-businesses with fewer than 10 employees were included. That’s up by 21% – or £52bn – on 2016. 

Some 46% of larger businesses, with 1,000 employees or more, made website sales in 2017, compared with 8.8% of micro-businesses. Those larger businesses’ sales reached £161bn in 2017. That’s up by £101bn or 169% from £60bn in 2009. Smaller businesses, with between 10 and 49 members of staff, turned over £34bn via their online websites in 2017, growing by £26bn, or 337%, from £7.8bn in 2009. 

The wholesale and retail business sectors accounted for more ecommerce sales made over a  website. Manufacturing, transport and storage businesses were the next most likely to have sales take place via an ecommerce website.

Overall, 9.8% of UK businesses sold via their website and turned over £586bn from doing so – up from £506bn in 2016

Electronic data interchange (EDI) sales

EDI accounted for £286bn of sales. Most sales via electronic data interchange took place in the manufacturing and wholesale sectors, with 1.6% of all businesses making EDI sales. 

Image: Fotolia

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