March 9, 2010, 12:00 AM

Western Europeans spent 12% more online last year, Forrester says

Western Europeans love online shopping—at least more than they did last year, a new report from Forrester Research finds. The group spent 68 billion euros ($92.5 billion) online in 2009, up 12% from 2008. And, Forrester says that growth will continue.


Western Europeans love online shopping-at least more than they did last year, a new report from Forrester Research Inc. finds. They spent 68 billion euros ($92.5 billion) online in 2009, up 12% from 2008. And, Forrester projects the growth trend will continue over the next five years.

For the next five years, Forrester predicts online retail sales in Western Europe to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11% to 155 billion euros ($210.5 billion) by 2014.


Online shopping is thriving despite Western Europeans fears about the economy and their finances. While only about one in five Western Europeans expect their personal financial situation to improve in 2010 and 41% report that their situation worsened in the past year, online sales have continued to grow, Forrester says.


“As the economy gets better and given the satisfaction with the Internet, it is highly likely that consumers will continue to look to the web for purchasing because of the benefits they find in using this channel,” Forrester says in its report, “Western European Online Retail Forecast, 2009 To 2014.”


Online shopping has become mainstream, and is no longer just an outlet for early adopters, says the report. Women are now shopping online nearly as much as men, 52% vs. 48%. Additionally, more middle-income shoppers are buying online. However, the typical Western European online shopper still has slightly more education, a higher income and is more likely to work full-time than typical shoppers. And high-income shoppers make up 44% of all online buyers in the region, Forrester reports.


Beyond buying, many Western Europeans research potential purchases on the web, Forrester says. 39% begin their research online when making a considered purchase and more than a third mix online and offline channels during the shopping process. 57% say they can find better deals online and 46% research products online regularly. 20% use comparison shopping engines but only 5% say they begin their shopping process on such a site. Additionally, 19% of Europeans with Internet access read customer ratings and reviews at least monthly, and 46% feel they help them make purchasing decisions. “The Internet is therefore a key channel in the purchasing process,” Forrester says.


The most popular online purchase by consumers in the region is books, followed by event tickets and clothing. Those items make up 27%, 18% and 17% of online purchases respectively. Cars and office supplies are the least popular items bought via the web.


One reason consumers in the region are pulling out their cards and buying on the web is because retailers are dedicating more dollars to their e-commerce sites, Forrester says. “Retailers and brands have invested in tools that provide customers with smarter product finders, assessments, and comparisons,” Forrester says. For example, multichannel retailer Argos department store recently added a comparison shopping tool, while apparel and accessories retailer Asos added catwalk videos to its site. “These tools empower customers with more control over and insight into their shopping experience,” Forrester says.


About 35% of the European Union adult population has shopped online and about 33% of those consumers have made online purchases from retailers outside of their own countries. E-retailers based outside the region are attracting Western Europeans through country-specific web sites, Forrester adds. EBay and, for example, are actively expanding abroad. However, there are hurdles-including inefficient postal services and different forms of payments in various countries, according to Forrester.


By 2014, Forerester predicts the following about Western Europeans’ online shopping habits:



  • Nearly 50% will shop online by 2014.
  • The number of online shoppers will increase from 141 million to 190 million
  • Average annual online spend will increase from 657 euros ($892.57) per year to 817 euros ($1,105.89)


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