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UK consumers were responsible for 30% of all European online retail sales in 2009

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UK consumers were responsible for almost a third of all European internet retailing sales in 2009, according to new research conducted by the Centre for Retail Research for Kelkoo.

UK sales totalled £38bn, says Kelkoo, compared with a total for the whole of Europe of £127.7bn.

UK consumers also topped the online retail spending tables in 2009 with an average annual spend of £1,102, compared to a European average of £774 on 20 items with an average cost per item of £39. The UK was followed by Denmark (£1,079) and Norway (£979). On average UK consumers purchased the greatest number of items in 2009 (37), whereas the Polish bought the least (10).

At £44, the average cost per item in France was 48% higher than in the UK, which at £30 was the lowest in Europe. Norway had the highest spend per item at £75.

The research also found that:

  • 25% of UK shoppers are now prepared to spend £1,000 or more online in a single transaction

  • 57% of UK consumers made online purchases — almost 20% higher than the European average of 38%

  • Poland, with a forecast growth rate of 36%, France (31%) and Spain (25%) will experience the fastest growth this year. As the most mature ecommerce market, the UK will grow the least (12.4%) to £42.7bn.

  • European online sales will grow by 20% to reach £153bn overall in 2010, accounting for 5.5% of overall European retail sales.

The UK, Germany (£29.7bn of sales in 2009) and France (£22bn) account for 70% of total online sales in Europe. The countries with the lowest overall online spend in 2009 were Poland (£2.2bn), Finland (£2.3bn) and Norway (£2.9bn).

The rankings of the ‘big online three’ (UK, Germany and France) have not changed since 2003, although during this period online sales in France have grown by 244%, compared to 171% in the UK and 183% in Germany, says Kelkoo.

In 2009, the online market in the UK also represented the largest proportion of overall retail sales at 9.5%, followed by Germany (6.9%), and the Nordic countries (Norway 6.3% and Denmark 6.1%). The countries with the lowest online share of overall retail sales were Italy (0.8%), Spain (1%) and Poland (2%). This is caused by several factors; says Kelkoo, including the fact that online retailing has only begun to obtain significant scale in Italy and Spain relatively recently. There are also proportionately fewer households with internet connections in these countries, and significantly lower levels of consumer ownership of PCs. Across Europe as a whole, internet retail sales accounted for a 4.7% share of total retail trade in 2009.

For 2010, the UK will continue to be the largest online retail market in Europe with a sales forecast of £42.7bn, followed by Germany (£34.8bn) and France (£28.9bn).

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