1 out of 2 persons in the EU purchased online in 2015

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The FINANCIAL — In the European Union (EU), the proportion of individuals aged 16 to 74 having ordered goods or services for private use over the internet (“e-buyers”) has continuously risen, from 30% in 2007 to 53% in 2015. This means that the EU has exceeded its Digital Agenda target of 50% by 2015.

Among EU internet users who did not make any on-line purchase in 2015, 75% reported that they preferred to shop in person and 27% were concerned about payment security and privacy.

Most e-buyers in the EU seemed satisfied with their online purchases: 70% said they did not encounter any problem when ordering online. The most popular items bought over internet were clothes and sports goods (ordered by 60% of e-buyers), followed by travel and holiday accommodation (52%) and household goods and toys (41%).

These data come from a report issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, and are part of the results of the survey conducted in 2015 on ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) usage in households and by individuals. The data are used to monitor several EU policies, in particular the Digital Agenda for Europe.

Highest proportion of e-buyers in the United Kingdom, Denmark and Luxembourg

In 2015, the share of e-buyers was highest in the United Kingdom (where 81% of the total population aged 16 to 74 purchased online), Denmark (79%), Luxembourg (78%), Germany (73%), the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden (all 71%). In contrast, Romania (11% of e-buyers), Bulgaria (18%), Cyprus (23%) and Italy (26%) registered the lowest proportions. Overall, in half of the Member States, the share of e-buyers was above 50%.

1 out of 2 silver surfers bought online in 2015

In the EU, online shopping is considerably less widespread among the older generations (with 25% of those aged 65-74 shopping online in 2015) than among the younger generations (66% of those aged 16-24 and 70% of those aged 25-34). This difference between the two age groups is largely explained by the fact that older people are less likely to use the internet – for whatever purpose. In fact, the share of online shoppers among silver surfers (internet users aged 65 to 74) has reached 53%, compared with 68% of young internet users.

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Highest share of e-buyers among the age group 25-34

Among the younger age group (those aged 16 to 24), the share of internet users having purchased online in 2015 was above 50% in most EU Member States, while for those aged 65 to 74, the proportion was above 50% only in the United Kingdom (78%), Luxembourg (69%), Germany (65%), Denmark (63%), Sweden (58%) and France

(57%). Overall, in an overwhelming majority of Member States, the highest share of online purchasers among internet users was found in the age group 25 to 34 years.

While the same general pattern was observed in all Member States, with the share of internet users having purchased online in 2015 being lower for the older generations than for younger ones, the size of this effect differed markedly between Member States.

Clothes in the United Kingdom, tourism services in Denmark, books in Luxembourg

In 2015, the most popular product purchased online in the EU was clothes and sports goods, with 60% of e-buyers having bought an item of this group. They were followed by travel and holiday accommodation (52%), household goods and toys (41%), tickets for events (37%) and books, magazines and newspapers (33%).

Clothes and sports goods were the top item in nineteen Member States. The highest share of e-buyers having purchased clothes online in 2015 was registered in the United Kingdom (74%), ahead of Malta (72%) and Bulgaria (71%). Travel and holiday accommodation, the most popular category in the remaining nine Member States, was acquired online by a particularly high proportion of e-buyers in the three Nordic EU Member States – Denmark (73%), Finland (70%) and Sweden (69%). Buying household goods and toys from the internet was most popular in the United Kingdom (61% of e-buyers), tickets for events in Denmark (69%) and Sweden (64%), and books, magazines and newspapers in Luxembourg (54%).

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7 e-buyers out of 10 did not encounter any problem when purchasing online

Smooth transactions over the internet appear to be the rule. In 2015, 70% of e-buyers in the EU did not encounter any problem when purchasing online. When however issues occurred, the speed of delivery (mentioned by 16% of e-buyers) and technical failure of the website during the ordering or payment (12%) were the two main problems encountered, followed by wrong or damaged goods/services delivered (8%).

More than a quarter of non-e-buyers are concerned about security on the internet

As to those people in the EU who did not make any purchases over the internet in 2015, an overwhelming majority had a preference to shop in person. They like to see the product before they buy it, express loyalty to shops or have a strong habit of making their purchases in person. More than a quarter (27%) reported that payment security or privacy concerns prevented them from shopping electronically, ahead of reasons linked to worries about receiving or returning goods (19%) and to the lack of skills or knowledge for shopping online (18%).


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