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Online purchasing penetration in Great Britain 2008-2020

The online purchasing penetration in Great Britain from 2008 to 2020 has demonstrated an exponential increase. In 2008, just over half of British consumers stated having made a purchase through online methods. Whereas in 2020, 87 percent of British consumers stated utilizing online channels to make purchases. This demonstrates that e-commerce in the UK shows no signs of slowing down in the future.

B2C vs. B2B e-commerce

Generally speaking, e-commerce sales to private customers through a website trumps sales to private businesses or public authorities. In 2018, sales to private customers through a website accounted for almost 200 billion pounds in revenue and sales to businesses or public authorities accounted for 165.3 billion pounds in revenue. From 2014 to 2018, with the exception of 2015, year after year e-commerce sales to private customers has increased. The most popular goods purchased online in Great Britain in 2019 were clothing or sports goods; 60 percent of consumers surveyed reported having purchased clothes or sporting goods online. Another popular category for online shopping among British consumers was household goods, with 49 percent of those surveyed stating they had purchased these online.

Most popular online activity

Although shopping is clearly a popular online activity, the leading online activity among UK citizens in 2019 was online banking. 73 percent of those surveyed reported having done so in 2019. Browsing for leisure activities such as cinema times and live music was also a popular online activity of UK citizens.

Share of individuals who made purchases online in Great Britain from 2008 to 2020

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Release date

August 2020


United Kingdom (Great Britain)

Survey time period

2008 to 2020

Number of respondents


Age group

16 years and older

Method of interview

Online survey

Supplementary notes

* The source indicates: "The source of this information is the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OLS). The OLS is a multi-purpose survey developed by ONS for use by government departments, other public bodies, charities, academics and the media. It provides a fast, cost effective and reliable way of obtaining information on topics too brief to warrant their own survey."
** The Opinions and Lifestyle Survey is carried out by interviewing a nationally representative sample of households in Great Britain. About 1,800 households are sampled each month and estimates are subject to sampling variability, as are those from all sample surveys.

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Statistics on "E-commerce in the United Kingdom (UK)"

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