European e-commerce sales up 19% in 2012

Online sales in the European market grew 19% in 2012, to reach 312 billion euros. Just the EU 28 alone, which includes Croatia, accounted for 276.5 billion euros, an increase of 18.1%. The United Kingdom, Germany and France led the ranks.


The British market is by far the most addicted to e-commerce, purchasing 96 billion euros online. Germany and France were next, each respectively spending 50 and 42 billion euros. This threesome accounts for 69% of e-commerce activity in the EU and 61% of Europe’s entire B2C e-commerce sector.

The online economy is said to represent 3.5% of the European GDP, expected to double by 2016 and triple by 2020, according to Ecommerce Europe, an umbrella organization of national associations of online retailers.

The report’s results position Europe as the world's largest B2C e-commerce market, with 311.6 billion dollars, or 35.1% of the global market. Next in line is North America (294 billion euros), followed by Asia-Pacific (227.8 billion euros), which showed the highest growth. In addition, “Ecommerce Europe expects the European B2C e-commerce market to double in size by the end of 2016 to reach 625 billion euros, driven by increased confidence and a growing number of e-shoppers,” said Wijnand Jongen, vice-president of Ecommerce Europe.

According to the organization, e-commerce created 2 million jobs in Europe last year and surpassed the milestone of 550,000 e-commerce websites, growing at a rate of 15 to 20% annually. Industry analysts expect an even faster pace of new website creation with the growth of new markets.

Major markets emerging


“The Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in particular have a head start as far as Internet usage and mobile devices is concerned,” said Wijnand Jongen. “These mature countries are scoring very high for both e-commerce and m-commerce (sales via smart phones and tablets). In these countries, 70 to 80 per cent of Internet users are e-shoppers. Internet penetration is 90% or higher. Their growth figures are currently 10 to 15 per cent. But other European countries are catching up fast. These countries currently have relatively fewer online purchasers, but the market is growing rapidly.”

Thus e-commerce in Southern and Eastern Europe is primed to take off, especially in Spain, Italy, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. Ecommerce Europe expects these regions to “rapidly close the gap with the more mature markets in North, West, and Central Europe.”

In 2012, the South European market pulled ahead of Nordic countries with 33.2 billion euros, an increase of 33.6%, accounting for 10.7% of the European market. Northern Europe is now in fourth place, posting 28.7 billion euros in online sales (9.2% of the European market), ahead of Eastern Europe, which made online purchases worth 12.6 billion euros, an increase of 12.6% (4% of the European market).


But Western Europe is currently the e-commerce leader, representing 160.8 billion euros in sales (51.6% market share), thanks to France’s strong online shopping. Central Europe is not far behind with 76.3 billion euros (24.5% market share) in a region where Germany dictates the trend. But at a time when 47.6% of Europeans are equipped with smartphones, there is no doubt that m-commerce will largely spur the market’s growth. In the large UK market, 12% of sales are already coming from mobile devices compared to 5% a year earlier.

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