European consumers will spend EU9 billion online this Christmas, almost as much as US consumers, according to a new report by Forrester Research. The IT sector analyst group estimates there are now 166 million regular online shoppers in Europe.
The research highlights that Internet shopping is more popular in the UK than in any other European country, and even more popular than in the US. UK consumers will spend EU3.2 billion
in holiday sales, 36% of the European total. Germany follows with sales of EU2.4 billion at 27%.
The main purchases over the period will be travel, books and gifts. Only 7% of the total will be spent on ‘replenishment’ products, such as food and drink.
Forrester warns retailers that supply chain issues remain the greatest threat to successful online business. Delivery is a particular problem because there are not enough delivery slots at times that suit customers, and because the postal services are unreliable. The Christmas spending spree magnifies these problems. Retailers should use private delivery companies – even if that eats into profits, it advises.
In the US, according to Department of Commerce figures, online commerce is rising at about 6% a year, but still accounts for only about 1.5% of retail sales.
Catalogue goods retailer Argos came top, partly because it provides services such as in-store returns of online purchases, home pick-up of returns at no cost and online stock availability checking. And 7% of Argos shoppers now buy goods from an Internet terminal inside a store.
In contrast, Tesco.com, the only profitable online grocer, came much further down the ranking, at number 15, because of the disruptive effects of its product line expansion, which confused shoppers.