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Opportunities abound in Spain’s rapidly expanding but still-immature ecommerce market, to judge by recent figures from the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC). Rising sales suggest that digital channels are already benefitting from improvements in business and consumer confidence and spending power, as the country recovers from the painful recession of recent years.
Ecommerce sales in Spain rose 29.2% in Q3 2015, compared to the same period of 2014, CNMC reported. That gain boosted quarterly digital sales beyond €5.3 million ($5.88 million) for the first time.
The most active sectors were travel agencies and tour operators—which accounted for nearly 21% of digital sales—air travel (13.0%) and clothing (5.6%). No other product or service category captured more than 5% of online sales.
In addition, the number of digital transactions jumped by 27.4% in the year to Q3 2015. Cultural products (such as CDs, books and magazines) and clothing were among the most frequently purchased items.
Due largely to adverse economic conditions, ecommerce has been slower to develop in Spain than in France, Germany and the UK, and many firms in Spain have not kept up with residents’ appetite for online shopping and buying. As a result, many consumers continue to buy from digital sellers outside the country. CNMC found that domestic purchasing accounted for 41.2% of sales volume in Q3 2015—but spending by residents on ecommerce sites elsewhere made up 39.7% of the total. The remaining 19.2% of sales came from external buyers purchasing from sites in Spain.
Sales in all these categories had risen steeply year-on-year. For example, internal purchasing grew by one quarter (24.9%), reaching €2.18 million ($2.42 million) in Q3 2015, according to CNMC. These figures reinforce the picture of an increasingly healthy economy. But even as consumer spending revives, Spain’s ecommerce market is markedly dependent on the industries that first moved to take advantage of online selling, notably travel and tourism.
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