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The UK has become one of the strongest digital commerce markets worldwide, as B2C ecommerce sales in the UK grew 14.4% to £77.35 billion ($124.76 billion) in 2012, up from £67.60 billion ($109.03 billion) in 2011, according to new figures from eMarketer.
B2C ecommerce sales in the UK were nearly three times larger than those in the second-largest Western European market, Germany, last year, eMarketer estimates. This year, UK sales are expected to grow 13.4% to £87.75 billion ($141.53 billion), and account for nearly one-third of all B2C ecommerce sales in the region.
While the UK is a smaller market than the US, China and Japan, consumers in the UK continue to spend more money online, per person, than those in any other country worldwide, according to eMarketer.
Among consumers who purchase goods via any digital channel, average B2C ecommerce sales in the UK rose to a world-leading $3,585 per person in 2012, up from $3,304 in 2011, eMarketer estimates—a result of strong demand for food and apparel goods among online consumers, as well as retailers’ strong online and mobile presence in the region.
Australia and Norway grabbed the No. 2 and 3 spots worldwide with average annual sales of $3,547 and $2,530, respectively, per person in 2012. The larger US market lags with just $2,293 in average sales per person last year.
Average ecommerce sales per person across Western Europe are lower—reaching $1,738 in 2012, up from $1,597 the previous year—but poor economic conditions in the region are having a positive effect on ecommerce growth, as more consumers turn to the internet as a way to save money.
In the case of Italy and Spain, where economic conditions are particularly fragile, growth in ecommerce sales topped all other Western European markets as the number of people who bought goods online in the two countries reached 11.7 million and 14.5 million, respectively, last year.
User growth is slower in the more mature UK ecommerce market, where nearly 35 million people—about 85% of internet users—bought goods online last year.
Methodology: eMarketer is relatively distinct in its methodology for global B2C ecommerce sales. The company forms its figures through an analysis of various elements related to ecommerce sales—including macro-level economic conditions, population figures, internet and broadband adoption, consumer attitudes, historical trends in online sales, survey data from third parties, and estimates from other research firms, investment banks and other forecasters—at a country and regional level before building its worldwide model.
In this case, eMarketer analyzed more than 1,100 data sets from over 130 research sources—whose ecommerce figures are each tracked and evaluated by eMarketer based on their respective methodologies, definitions and historical accuracy—looking at more than 22 markets and six major regions worldwide, before forming its figures.
eMarketer tracks and re-evaluates many of its estimates more than once per year. When an estimate is re-evaluated and found to be unchanged from the previous estimate, it is marked as “confirmed and republished” as of the later date.
Definitions: eMarketer’s figures for B2C ecommerce sales include retail sales, travel sales, digital downloads purchased via any digital channel (including online, mobile and tablet) and sales from businesses that occur over primarily C2C platforms such as eBay. These figures exclude gambling and event tickets. Digital buyers are internet users ages 14 and older who have made at least one purchase via any digital channel within the past year, including purchases made on desktop, laptop, mobile and tablet devices. eMarketer converts currency based on the average 2012 exchange rate as reported by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Note: eMarketer benchmarks its Argentina B2C ecommerce sales projections against Cámara Argentina de Comercio Electrónico (CACE) data, for which the last full year measured was 2011. eMarketer benchmarks its Germany B2C ecommerce sales numbers against the Bundesverband des Deutschen Versandhandels data, for which the last full year measured was 2011. eMarketer benchmarks its India B2C ecommerce sales projections against the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) data, for which the last full year measured was 2011. eMarketer benchmarks its Japan B2C ecommerce sales projections against the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) data, for which the last full year measured was 2010. US B2C ecommerce is comprised of retail ecommerce and digital travel sales. US retail ecommerce is benchmarked against the Department of Commerce data, for which the last full year measured was 2011; US digital travel sales, which includes online leisure and unmanaged business travel, is benchmarked against PhoCusWright data, for which the last full year measured was 2010. Asia-Pacific includes American Samoa, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, North Korea, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna. Eastern Europe includes Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, Poland. Latin America includes Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uruguay, Venezuela, Virgin Islands (British), Virgin Islands (US). Middle East & Africa includes Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Gaza Strip, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, West Bank/Palestine, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe. North America includes Canada, US. Western Europe includes Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Guernsey, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK.
eMarketer is the authority on digital marketing, media and commerce, offering insights essential to navigating the changing, competitive and complex digital environment. By weighing and analyzing information from different sources, eMarketer provides businesspeople, marketers and advertisers with the most complete view of digital marketing available.
Marketing Communications Director, eMarketer
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Check out today’s other articles, “Ecommerce Sales Topped $1 Trillion for First Time in 2012” and “Content Vaults to No. 1 Marketing Priority for 2013.”
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