UK e-shoppers take worldwide lead

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UK e-shoppers take worldwide lead

Online shoppers in the UK will each spend nearly £1,700 a year online by
2011, according to analysts’ forecasts.

The UK will lead Europe and the US in e-commerce spending over the next five years, according to a report issued last week by analyst firm Forrester.

Online sales in Europe will almost double to E263bn by 2011. The number of online shoppers will grow to 174 million and they will each spend an average of E1,500 (£1,040) a year on the web, according to the Forrester Research Ecommerce Forecast.

The UK will show the strongest growth of the 17 European nations considered – the average online shopper in the UK will spend E2,410 (£1,670) each year by 2011. This would make the UK-commerce market the largest in Europe, contributing nearly a third of total internet retail revenue in the region.

The strong performance by the UK has "everything to do with early internet adoption" here, according to Jaap Favier of Forrester. "This means the average Brit got exposed earlier on than other European nations to e-commerce," he said. "The penetration of credit cards in the UK [is also greater] – so there has always been a more or less universal payment mechanism that consumers are confident in."

Favier added that the UK has an advantage over other European countries in that successful US web sites which want to expand usually do so first with a UK web site, as there are less changes to make and a closer cultural fit.

The Forrester report supports research published in May by the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) that reported growth in e-retail sales of 2,000 percent in the last six years, with UK shoppers now spending £50bn a year online.

The IMRG also announced that web sales increased nearly 30 percent year-on-year. Among the top performing groups were electrical retailers, with business up 75 percent, and fashion, up 43 percent.

IMRG's chief executive, James Roper, said Forrester’s conclusions were not surprising given the high take-up of broadband, the ubiquity of cheap PCs and the advanced telecoms industry in the UK.

"This will hit those businesses [without an efficient e-commerce channel] in several ways," Roper added. "The internet requires a different mindset, so firms may find they are being led by the wrong people… There is also a challenge to companies who shunned e-commerce because they haven't got the back-end systems to support it."

Roper noted that e-commerce skills are currently in high demand in areas such as web design and online marketing.
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