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The UK e-commerce market and its impressive growth

Martin Castilla            No comments            Mar, 17

It’s difficult not to be awed by the phenomenal growth of e-commerce in the UK. According to Statista the UK’s e-commerce market was the third biggest in the world in 2016. A 2017 UK government report estimated the total amount of e-commerce sales in the country at 586 billion GBP.

During the same year, the total value of B2B e-commerce sales, i.e. sales that took place via a website, reached 133.6 billion GBP. To see this in perspective: it means that e-commerce represented 16.5 per cent of all business turnover in the UK during 2017.

By next year (2021) it is expected that around 93 per cent of British internet users will do online shopping. This will be the highest penetration rate for online shopping anywhere in Europe.


Now let’s move to 2019. According to E-marketer retail sales growth was relatively sluggish last year amid an increasingly challenging retail environment and Brexit concerns.

Total retail sales for 2019 was around $635.46 billion (476.65 billion GBP) last year. Physical retail is having a particularly hard time, with non-ecommerce sales growing by only 0.4 per cent. E-commerce sales, on the other hand, grew around 10.9 per cent and at $141.93 billion (106.46 billion GBP) amounted to 22.3 per cent of all retail sales.


How will these e-commerce sales be generated? The answer should not surprise many readers. With mobile phones having become part of British life, no less than 58.9 per cent of m-commerce sales will be generated via smartphones. Within the next three years, that percentage is expected to grow to 71.2 per cent.


With physical retail stores having to deal with growth rates that are slowing down steadily, and e-commerce taking an ever bigger share of the sales cake, it’s only normal that some high street retailers should view the latter as an existential threat.

Those retailers who have embraced this as a new opportunity have, however, been very successful. An example is the click-and-collect system, which is becoming increasingly popular. Another option that is slowly catching on is the cashier less store, where smartphones play a very important role.


According to the VP of forecasting at, Monica Peart, retail sales will only grow by around 1.2 per cent this year, bringing the total to $649.66 billion (487.30 billion GBP). That will be the lowest percentage growth in five years.

E-commerce, on the other hand, is expected to grow by 8.9 per cent to reach a new record of $152.33 billion (£114.26 billion). Another notable aspect is that m-commerce sales, i.e. sales via smartphones and tablets, will for the first time ever comprise about 50 per cent of all online sales.


Nobody wants to order a birthday gift online, only to have it delivered two days after the event. Fortunately, there are a number of parcel delivery services that offer next day delivery – a great option in today’s fast-paced world.