Study Reveals New Trends in European Shopping Habits

A new report conducted by global retail property experts, Colliers International, reveals shopping habits across Europe.

The latest research reveals that British seniors are now among the most tech-savvy consumers in the world, with 78 per cent of internet users over 65 currently shopping online.

The report also demonstrates that the largest European e-commerce market is found in the UK with online sales currently running at around at £130bn ($160bn) annually (meaning that this year’s Christmas gifts are merely a click away for many of us.)

However, while the research shows that the British have wholeheartedly embraced online retailing, other countries have been slower to shop online; and while ecommerce is growing rapidly, the way that people purchase and pay for their goods around the world still remains very diverse. Italians are among the least tech-savvy shoppers in Western Europe as only 68 per cent have access to the internet and just 26 per cent are shopping online.

Cash remains the predominant method of paying for shopping, particularly in China, Russia, Spain, Germany, Poland and Italy. French shoppers use more cheques than any other European nation while consumers in the Netherlands and Sweden are heading slowly towards cashless society. They also favour more technological platforms such as the iDEAL online service and Swish; a Swedish app that was initially developed to help friends split the payment of restaurant bills and now it is used by more than 50 per cent of Swedes.

Paul Souber, Colliers, Head of EMEA Retail, comments:

  • “In a globalised age, it can be natural to think that shopping is becoming an increasingly homogenised process. However, as this study shows, the ways in which people shop and pay for their shopping remains very diverse – and often surprising.
  • “These patterns have important ramifications for retailers and also for the developers and owners of shopping space. While online retailing has undoubtedly curtailed some retailers’ appetite for expanding their store networks, it can also generate demand for property as what were once purely online brands open physical stores and where logistics facilities are needed to support the fulfilment of online orders.”

The share of cross-border transactions in online retail is increasing rapidly, as shoppers gradually feel more confident about shopping on foreign websites; retailers are accepting different payment methods to boost their turnover growth and are willing to deliver items to almost every part of the globe. The UK, US, China and Germany are the biggest online export markets globally. By 2020, 45 per cent of online shoppers will buy from other countries. The value of cross-border sales is expected to increase from US$230 billion in 2014 to US$1 trillion by 2020.

Other key findings from the report:

  • Germany, Spain and Poland are the fastest growing online shoppers in Europe, which is rapidly stimulating the development of logistics facilities to support order fulfilment.
  • The British, Japanese and Spanish spend the most on enjoying themselves, while the Russians and Chinese spend the least.
  • 29% of online retail sales in the UK were carried out via mobile devices in 2015. Marks & Spencer report that the number of visits to its website via these devices rose from 7m in 2012, to 80m this year.
  • Shoppers in Poland, Russia and Italy appear far less prone to using mobiles to conduct online transactions, despite higher usage/ownership rates.
  • UK e-buyers like to make purchases from international online shops, with 56 per cent having bought goods via overseas retail sites mainly in China and the US.
  • A quarter of Russian online retail sales are made through cross-border purchases, 80 per cent which are from Chinese websites.

Paul Souber adds:

  • “Changes to consumer spending capacity, consumer choices, demographic-urbanisation and the rapid accession of technological adaption are re-structuring shopping behaviour.
  • “Where people shop, what they’re buying, how they shop and even how they pay for things is all being influenced by technology and the internet in some way. Understanding how people shop in individual markets is not only of relevance to local retailers, but also to those brands operating across borders.”