European e-commerce continued to grow strongly in 2021, but is now experiencing a slowdown due to the Ukraine crisis and inflation. Retailers will have to double their digital investments by 2030.
Even when shoppers can visit physical stores again, they continue to buy online: despite the lifting of most Covid measures and the UK’s departure from the European single market, e-commerce sales in Europe grew 13% to 718 billion euros in 2021. In the 27 EU countries, the growth rate was 16%. 90% of the population now use the internet and 76% also shop online.
This is evident from the recently published European E-Commerce Report by EuroCommerce and Ecommerce Europe, which contains detailed figures on e-commerce in 37 countries on the European continent.
After the huge spike caused by the pandemic, e-commerce remains firmly anchored in the economy and society, the report states. Contrary to what many observers had expected, online sales have continued to grow, but that growth is now stabilising.
Consumers are becoming more cautious: the war in Ukraine, inflation and disrupted supply chains are causing a general feeling of uncertainty. Nevertheless, the sector is showing resilience. The online services sector, such as tourism and events, is experiencing a strong revival.
There are reasons for concern, however. To make a successful digital transformation, companies will have to double their investments by 2030, thinks EuroCommerce managing director Christel Delberghe.
“Having a digital presence is becoming a matter of survival for many companies. Our customers expect us to deliver a seamless experience, offering various combinations of online and offline interactions,” she says. But small and medium-sized enterprises in particular are still lagging behind in their use of digital tools. They need more support.