Western Europe Ecommerce Trends in 2019

Holiday Shopping Patterns, Digital Grocery and the Rise of Amazon and Alibaba

Executive Summary

This report looks at three major developments in Western Europe ecommerce: sales and consumer purchasing patterns during the 2018 holiday season; the continuing spread of online grocery shopping; and ways in which global retail giants Amazon and Alibaba are gaining clout in key European markets.

How much are digital buyers in Western Europe’s main markets spending online?

Retail ecommerce sales in the EU-5—France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK—are expected to pass $325 billion this year, and surpass $400 billion in 2022.

What patterns emerged in digital sales during the 2018 holiday shopping season?

Participation in Black Friday and Cyber Monday has risen sharply in recent years, encouraged by retailers’ heavy discounting. Online traffic in France on Black Friday was 129% higher than the daily average during October 2018, and sales were up 265% on Black Friday 2017, according to Criteo. Christmas also remains central to the shopping season.

How many internet users in Western Europe shop online for groceries?

Eurostat reported that 32% of digital buyers in the UK and 23% of those in Germany bought groceries on the web in 2018. But those shares were substantially lower in France (17%), Spain (12%) and Italy (6%).

How is Amazon increasing its sales and influence in Europe’s markets, and how does that strategy differ from Alibaba’s?

Amazon is investing heavily in warehouses and other logistics capabilities to serve Western Europe. Since its 2017 purchase of Whole Foods, the company also aims to boost food sales and delivery, and is moving into financial services with Amazon Payment and Amazon Insurance (in the UK). Alibaba’s retail platform, AliExpress, is partnering with several regional store chains, including Spain’s El Corte Inglés, and promoting its own payment solution, Alipay.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report offers an overview of digital sales patterns in Western Europe’s 2018 holiday season and the growth in online grocery buying in recent months. It also looks at moves made by Amazon and Alibaba to gain customers and revenue in the region.

KEY STAT: In 2019, retail ecommerce sales will vary substantially across the EU-5, from less than $20 billion in Italy to more than $137 billion in the UK—the region’s leading market by far.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Western Europe Retail Ecommerce: 2019 Context
  3. Holiday/Festive Season Ecommerce
  4. Digital Grocery
  1. Amazon and Alibaba on the March
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  4. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

José Luis Antolín
The Cocktail
Business Development Director
Interviewed January 22, 2019
Karel Dörner
McKinsey & Company
Senior Partner
Interviewed January 24, 2019
Alex Gevers
Corporate Marketing Manager
Interviewed January 28, 2019
Mark Hudson
Head of Business Intelligence
Interviewed January 24, 2019
Michele Marzan
Chief Strategy Officer
Interviewed January 25, 2019
Michael Ni
Interviewed January 29, 2019
Phill Palmer
Total Media
Head of Customer Experience
Interviewed January 30, 2019
Joanna Parman
Client Business Partner
Interviewed January 30, 2019
Alba Ruiz
Alibaba Group
Business Development Manager, Spain and Portugal
Interviewed January 25, 2019
Ben Samuel
Nielsen Visual IQ
Vice President, EMEA
Interviewed January 18, 2019
Des Tapaki
Digital Director
Interviewed January 30, 2019

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Karin von Abrams


Alina Brentnall
Researcher, Europe
Matteo Ceurvels
Research Analyst
Bill Fisher
Senior Analyst
Jennifer Jhun
Research Director, International and Special Projects
Angela Kim
Senior Researcher
Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst
Andrew Lipsman
Principal Analyst

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