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12 per cent annual growth predicted for European e-commerce market

01 March 2012 - 10:26 by Simon Crisp

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The industry which enables European consumers to carry out safe shopping online will continue to grow at a rate of 12 per cent each year, turning over £146 billion by the year 2016, according to a study published by research firm Forrester.

Last year about £82 billion was spent online across the continent, with the UK contributing quite a significant amount of this total. British e-commerce sales grew by 11 per cent in 2011, up to £30 billion, with analysts estimating that this will have increased to £51 billion within four years.

This will mean that safe shopping online should eventually represent a sixth of the UK's total retail sector.

The report looked into the ways in which the online market is divided between different types of shopping service, foreseeing a significant rise in grocery sales by 2016, when UK consumers will spend £7.6 billion within a year.

The UK is actually leading the rest of Europe when it comes to grocery shopping via the web, with Forrester spokesperson, Martin Gill, saying that other countries such as France and Germany will have to examine what British retailers are achieving in order to close the gap.

Mr Gill foresees that the relatively mature nature of the e-commerce market in the UK will result in further cannibalisation of the high street, because Brits are already savvy about online shopping and so the only way that growth can be sustained is by transference of sales away from bricks and mortar outlets.

Seventy-five per cent of the UK's online community was made up of people looking to make purchases via the web in 2011, but analysts believe that this figure will rise to 85 per cent by 2016, which will put our domestic e-commerce market just behind Sweden's when it comes to saturation levels.