The digital revolution has been rewiring retail for years. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this transition as e-commerce became the default setting for many homebound consumers. The crisis-inspired surge in e-commerce is leading to a permanent shift in retail, creating both new challenges as well as new opportunities for retailers and consumer brands alike. This report explores those opportunities and challenges in Western Europe.
As a result of government-imposed restrictions on non-essential store-based retailing in most countries across the region at several points in 2020, consumers shifted to e-commerce. This led to a considerable surge in online sales in Western Europe, however, due to relatively limited e-commerce readiness, it was less extreme compared to other regions in the world.
The UK, which already was the most advanced country in terms of e-commerce size before the pandemic, showcased its e-commerce readiness during the pandemic by posting the highest absolute value growth in 2020. Countries in the region with particularly low e-commerce penetration were among the fastest growing in 2020.
Although grocery retailers remained open in the region in 2020, recommendations to stay at home and general health concerns led to a widespread shift towards food and drink e-commerce. With only limited demand before the pandemic, food and drink e-commerce recorded the fastest growth among all categories following its outbreak.
In Western Europe, the apparel and footwear product category is projected to be the strongest growing category during the 2020-2025 forecast period due to the industry being particularly hard hit by the pandemic in 2020, and due to heavy investment from retailers in online sales and experiences.
As the region in the world with the highest share of consumers aged 65+, it was particularly notable that the pandemic led to the adoption of e-commerce among a significant share of this age group. Behind a digitalisation push ignited by the pandemic, older consumers are expected to become more influential in e-commerce.
With a higher number of consumers showing a growing preference for e-commerce as a result of the pandemic and many retailers shifting their business at least partly online, the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally improved conditions and therefore growth prospects for e-commerce in Western Europe in the years ahead.
If you purchase a report that is updated in the next 60 days, we will send you the new edition and data extract FREE! Home Page