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The Development of Ecommerce in Europe During 2020

This month the Newsletter is going to look at some new developments in Europe and at some recent European Union (EU) activities. First, Eurostat’s 2020 Community survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals, which includes a specific section on ecommerce clearly shows the increase of online shopping last year. In the 2020 survey, 89% of people aged 16 to 74 in the EU used the internet, 72% of whom had bought or ordered goods or services for private use. Online shopping increased by 4% compared with 2019 (68% of internet users) and by 10% compared with 2015 (62%).

More than 8 in 10 internet users in the Netherlands (91%), Denmark (90%), Germany (87%), Sweden (86%) and Ireland (81%) had bought or ordered goods or services over the internet in the 12 months of the survey. On the other hand, fewer than 50% had shopped online in Bulgaria (42%), Romania (45%) and Italy (49%; 2019 data). Over the last 5 years, the largest increases in online shopping among internet users were recorded in Romania (+27%), Czech and Croatia (both +25%) as well as Hungary (+23%).

The most common online purchases were clothes (incl. sport clothing), shoes or accessories (ordered by 64% of online shoppers), followed by films or series as a streaming service or downloads (32%), deliveries from restaurants, fast-food chains and catering services (29%), furniture, home accessories or gardening products (28%), cosmetics, beauty or wellness products (27%), printed books, magazines or newspapers (27%), computers, tablets, mobile phones or their accessories (26%) and music as a streaming service or downloads (26%).

71% of users did not experience any issues while online shopping. The problems encountered most often by EU online shoppers were related to slower delivery than had been indicated at the time of making the purchase (17 %). Some 8% had problems in the form of technical failure of a website while ordering or paying, 8% had received wrong or damaged goods or services. Overall, the main reason for not buying online is customers preference to shop in person in order to see the products before purchasing them, out of loyalty to the store or simply out of habit (73%). In terms of cross-border purchases, they remain highest among users aged between 16 and 24 years, with 34% having bought a product from an EU seller and 24% – from a non-EU seller. The vast majority of customers have chosen to buy online from national sellers, an overall of 90% from all age groups.

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Alastair Tempest


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