European business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales totaled 106 billion euros ($133 billion) in 2006 and will grow at an annual growth rate of 25% over the next 5 years, tripling in amount to reach nearly 323 billion euros ($407 billion), according to eMarketer.
The European e-commerce market is forecast to reach $197 million this year – a growth of 37% – after which market growth is expected to gradually decelerate, reaching 16% growth in the fifth year of the forecast (2011).
The European market is far from uniform, according to “European B2C E-Commerce: Spotlight on the UK, Germany and France.” The three countries in the title together now account for 72% of Europe’s online sales:
- The UK is by far the largest of the three major markets, with projected 2007 sales of 42 billion pounds ($84 billion) and is on track to grow 39% this year.
- Germany, however, has the most online buyers, with 27.2 million, but produces less than half the online sales volume of the UK.
- France, in turn, produces less than half Germany’s e-commerce sales volume and has 14.5 million online buyers.
- On average, German and French buyers are spending considerably less online per person than their UK counterparts.
The first European e-commerce wave began with the UK, Germany and France, and the next wave, over the next four years, will begin in smaller markets – Italy, the Netherlands and Spain – eMarketer forecasts.
The third wave will follow early in the next decade, as Eastern European states – Russia, Poland, and the Czech Republic – begin to embrace e-commerce, it said.