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The global fashion business journal

Jun 19, 20243:57am

Two-speed Europe, also in e-commerce: sprint in the North, calm in the South

There is a great distance between the United Kingdom, where 78% of the total population purchases online, and Bulgaria or Romania, for instance, where the percentage stands only at 11%

Dec 6, 2018 — 10:00am
Silvia Riera

A two-speed Europe, also in e-commerce: sprint in the North, calm in the South



In the land of Asos, Zalando, Vente Privee and Yoox Net-a-Porter, e-commerce advances in Europe at two different speeds. Whilst in the north, the channel is going up at an intense rate, the pace for south and eastern Europe is much more relaxed. The territory’s own particularity, which involves from cultural differences to despair legalities, restrains the expansion of the European titans’ e-commerce platforms in their very own homes.


And, in fact, platforms have a radius of influence generally focused on their local markets and its neighbouring countries. The United Kingdom is, for now, the country where online sales are leading the major role and where physical commerce has precisely started to totter. For the time being, the advance of the internet has shown the weaknesses of huge British retailers such as Marks&Spencer or Debenhams, both immersed in restructuration plans, or even House of Fraser, who when bankruptcy came, was rescued in extremis by Sports Direct last summer.


In Europe, 48 out of one hundred citizens purchased online during the last three months of 2017. This percentage has doubled in the last ten years, when it stood at 24%, according to the data gathered by European statistics agency Eurostat.





However, the relevance of purchases through the web is quite different according to the country. Two-speed Europe is also obvious due to the incursion of e-commerce. Thus, there is a heavy distance between the United Kingdom, where 78% of the total population buys online, and Bulgaria or Romania, for instance, where the percentage stands only at 11%.


Within those two opposite ends, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden are more in line with the British, whilst Croatia, Cyprus, Greece and Italy, stand next to Bulgarian and Romanians. Spain, for its part, stands around the lower parts of the chart although close to the European average.


That means that 40 out of one hundred people in Spain purchased something online during the last quarter of the year, which is a similar percentage to that of Malta (43%) or Ireland (44%). As per European expenses on the web, 48% of the European population destined more than one hundred euros in online purchases during the last months of 2017.





Regarding age ranges, during the last three months of 2017, 58% of Europeans between 16 and 24 years old made some sort of purchase online, according to Eurostat. In the United Kingdom, the percentage boosted up to 83% of the total within that group, whereas in Romania it barely reached 20%.


Nevertheless, the age range that was more active in e-commerce during the last quarter of the past year was the one comprehended between 25 and 34 years old, who raised the percentage to 66%. In the case of the United Kingdom, the share stood at nine out of ten people of that range, whereas in Romania it was two out of ten.


Between 35 and 44 years old, 61% of European citizens bought something online during the last quarter of 2017. This age range surpassed the 80% of purchases done by British, German, Luxembourgers and Dutch citizens, whereas Romanians and Bulgarians did not reach the 20%. The percentage of European citizens who purchased online between October and December of 2017 is reducing at the same time as age advances. In that sense, 54% of people between 45 and 54 years old in the European region did some purchase online during the end of 2017; 46% were carried out by people between 55 and 64 years old, and 41% by people older than 65.


Fashion, the most purchased item in Europe

Fashion and sports articles were the categories that acquired a higher percentage of European consumers in 2017. About 37% of citizens in the European Union ordered at least one fashion or sports item during the course of the past year. Moreover, during the last ten years, the percentage has been escalating from 13% scored in 2008.


The second product category that has been more purchased online are all things related to culture: movies, music, books, magazines, academic preparation or software. 31% of Europeans acquired some of those items in 2017.


The third most searched category on the web is the one referred to decoration household articles, and the fourth is alimentation. As per countries, the United Kingdom is the one that buys more fashion; Denmark and Germany lead the consumption of household articles; and the Swedish are heading the purchases of cultural products.





In Europe, 43 out of one hundred people who used the internet on 2017 purchased fashion and sports articles through the web. This figure has been doubled ever since in 2008, the percentage stood at 21%, according to the European statistics agency. In the whole of the European Union, British are the ones that purchased a higher number of fashion and sports articles last year: 64% of British citizens used the internet last year to acquire products from these categories.


Ranking also above the average there is the Netherlands, where the percentage of internet users who purchased clothes online raised to 59%; in Denmark and Germany, 55 out of one hundred internet users carried out fashion and sports articles’ purchases through the internet; in Sweden, it was 53 out of a hundred; in Luxembourg and Finland, a total of 48 for each one hundred; in France, Norway and Malta, a total of 47; in Austria, 46 and in Iceland, 45. 

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