Double-digit growth for online retail in Europe and US

1 Mar 2011

Online retail in both the US and Western Europe will continue on a double-digit growth trajectory over the next five years to reach US$279bn and €134bn respectively in 2015, according to Forrester Research.

Both US and European online retail will grow at a 10pct compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2010 to 2015.

The forecasts include business-to-consumer sales, excluding travel and financial services.

Future Human

The European forecast encompasses 17 Western European nations and includes a category-by-category breakdown of online retail across these markets.

“The online retail market in both the US and Western Europe remains strong, despite the challenging economy,” said Forrester vice-president and research director Patti Freeman Evans.

“In fact, with consumer purchasing behaviour returning to normal, US web sales in 2010 actually accelerated over 2009 compared with the prior year, growing 12.6pc.

“In Europe, very strong growth in 2010 was fuelled by new online buyers and higher spend per capita on the demand side, as well as the launch of transactional websites by established offline players,” Freeman Evans said.

Flash sales and group buying are the new business models for e-commerce

Retailers are supporting consumers’ increasing use of the web in the US, helping to drive growth with new business models, such as flash sales and group buying phenomena, such as Groupon, as well as improved merchandising to provide a broad selection of products available online.

However, this growth comes at the expense of brick-and-mortar stores, as consumers increasingly spend on the web, especially during critical shopping days such as Cyber Monday.

In Western Europe, the online retail market grew 18pc from 2009 to 2010 and is projected to grow 13pc from 2010 to 2011, but growth rates will then slow as the market matures and buyer penetration begins to level off.

By 2015, 68pc of online adults will have made a purchase online; however, northern European countries will see 80pc or more of their online population buying on the web, versus less than 50pc in southern countries.

“Forrester’s US and Western Europe online retail forecasts, in conjunction with the previously released Asia Pacific online retail forecasts and the upcoming Latin America online retail forecast, demonstrate Forrester’s global forecasting abilities,” said vice-president and Practice Leader of Forrester’s Market Insights team Jill Chiara.

“Together, these forecasts provide a robust view of the global retail customer, helping companies worldwide to strategise for current and future retail markets,” Chiara said.


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years