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The French economy may be struggling—GDP growth in the first half of 2014 was nil, according to the country’s Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (INSEE)—but digital commerce is going from strength to strength. In late September, the Fédération du E-commerce et de la Vente à Distance (FEVAD) reported that business-to-consumer ecommerce sales in France reached €13.3 billion ($17.7 billion) in Q2 2014—a 10.5% gain compared with Q2 2013.
FEVAD estimates are based on data from leading ecommerce sites selling in France and on the aggregate number of transactions handled by the main payment platforms serving 147,200 active websites.
As ecommerce becomes second nature for many of France’s internet users, these digital shoppers are buying online more often, even if they spend less per transaction. Average order value slid to €82 ($109.33) during Q2 2014, 3% lower than in Q2 2013. But more frequent purchasing more than compensated for that decline; FEVAD reported that the rate of buying rose 7% year over year. As a result, average spend per digital buyer in Q2 2014 was €488 ($650.67), up from €472 ($629.33) in Q2 2013.
Ecommerce is also claiming an ever-larger share of retail spending. That share is growing by roughly 1 percentage point per year, FEVAD reported. In 2013, digital sales represented an estimated 8% of retail sales in France, excluding food and groceries.
Mobile buying is on the rise, too, though mcommerce is relatively undeveloped. The value of mobile sales—transactions carried out on smartphones and tablets, or via a mobile site or app, but excluding app downloads—jumped by 52% in the year to June 2014, according to FEVAD.
Despite the steady gains in online buying, France doesn’t rank among the most advanced ecommerce markets in Western Europe. In 2014, eMarketer estimates that 67.7% of web users ages 14 and older in the country will make a digital purchase—a slightly higher proportion than the regional average of 65.2%. Germany, the UK and the Nordic nations all register greater digital buyer penetration. Yet France does boast the third-largest population of digital buyers in the region and will maintain that position for the foreseeable future. eMarketer estimates that more than 29 million web users in the country will buy online this year.
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