E-commerce in the United Kingdom (UK) - Statistics & Facts

The United Kingdom (UK) has the most advanced e-commerce market in Europe. According to the most recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (UK), the country’s e-commerce revenue in 2018 amounted to 688.4 billion GBP, a sharp increase on the year prior. On sectoral basis, wholesale and manufacturing were the two biggest industry sectors that generated the highest e-commerce sales in the same year.

Retail sector, where the UK leads the way in Europe, was responsible for around eight percent of e-commerce sales across all industries. In the retail sector alone, online sales constituted 17.8 percent of all retail in 2018, and is forecast to reach even higher levels in 2019. Yet, despite the UK’s position as the market leader in online retail, the growth in recent years has been stable. In fact, in 2019 internet retail sales grew by only 10.1 percent, the slowest rate recorded in the past decade. Online retailing had particular weight in textile and clothing stores, with the most recent governmental figures showing over one-fourth of retail sales coming from online.

In many markets in Europe, mobile commerce and mobile shoppers are taking precedence within e-commerce. In Great Britain, too, the share of smartphone users who shopped via mobile devices, especially smartphones, increased over the years. In parallel, the number of consumers who used mobile payment methods in their online transactions increased, with an expected growth of more than two million more users in 2019.

The online shopping landscape of the UK is getting more enriched with more and more consumers choosing to make purchases online. In 2019, as high as 82 percent of UK households made online purchases within the preceding 12 months, making this the highest online purchase penetration rate in the country in the past 11 years. Clothing and sports goods were especially popular purchases made online.

More detailed analyses of online shopping behavior of consumers reveal that what drives shoppers to online retail channels is a mix of various motivations. A survey conducted in 2018 and 2019 found out that prices and choices were the biggest two factors. Another study on the payment patterns of online shoppers revealed that while conventional methods such as credit cards or debit cards still held a higher share, shoppers also accommodated online payment systems such as PayPal, or even digital wallets such as Google, Apple, and Amazon.

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E-commerce in the United Kingdom (UK)

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Online retail

Mobile commerce

Multichannel retail

Online shoppers


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