E-commerce in the United Kingdom
Online share of retail sales is number one in Europe.
The UK is one of the world’s leading e-commerce nations, particularly in groceries, where it was an early mover compared to, for example, the Nordic countries. E-commerce consumers are both domestic and foreign, which contributes to the country’s strength in the market. Internet penetration is 98%, making the UK one of the top EU countries for internet usage. In March 2021, e-commerce accounted for around 34% of all retail sales.
Impact of the coronavirus pandemic
The United Kingdom has been under a series of lockdowns during the pandemic. The lack of open physical stores led Britons to turn to e-commerce. As much as 40% of consumers state they have shopped more online as a result of the coronavi- rus pandemic, and this is in a country that already does a relatively large amount of online shopping.
The UK has many domestic market participants with large market shares. UK-based ASOS is one of the world’s leading fashion and footwear retailers. In 2020, the company’s net sales increased by 20 percent, to GBP 3,263 million. US market participants Amazon and eBay are also very strong in the country, but Brexit is making things slightly more difficult for the online retail giants. In the past, Amazon sellers have been able to ship their goods to a warehouse in the UK for onward transport to the rest of the EU. Instead, many companies are opening central warehouses in other European countries.
Brexit may delay deliveries
In February 2020, the UK left the European Union after years of negotiations. As the country is no longer part of the EU, it is also no longer part of the customs union. Every UK e-retailer now needs to report exactly what is in their parcels in order to get them past customs. Most online retailers in the UK had difficulty adjusting, resulting in a large number of delayed parcels. It has also become more difficult for Britons to shop from the rest of Europe.
Source: E-commerce in Europe 2021