The Forrester 2021 Online Retail Forecast for Western Europe shows that e-commerce in the region grew 2.5 times faster in 2020 than in 2019 which means a record growth of 31%.

The countries with the most developed e-commerce markets, such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, and the UK, saw the fastest rates of growth, as did food and drink, alcohol, video games, and DIY. 16% of Western European retail sales happened online in 2020, a significant increase from 13% just a year earlier in 2019.

Key takeaways of the report include:

  • Food and drink growth. Across Western Europe, food and drink e-commerce grew 67% in 2020, outpacing all other categories. More consumers bought groceries online than ever before, and average basket sizes increased over pre-pandemic levels.
    • In the UK, Tesco and Sainsbury’s make up more than 40% of the online food and drink market. In 2020, they more than doubled their online delivery slots, and in the first half of 2020, Tesco grew e-commerce by 69% and Sainsburys grew it by 102%. Similarly, UK-based Waitrose saw online sales grow 182% and Ocado saw online sales grow 35%, more than double 2019’s numbers.
    • France also saw strong grocery growth: Carrefour grew online sales by 50%, while Leclerc’s “drive” grew by 42%.
    • And Netherlands-based global grocer Ahold Delhaize saw 57% growth in European e-commerce.
  • Category growth. E-commerce drove 38% of total Western European retail sales in the DIY and garden categories. In fact, both online and offline sales saw impressive 13% year-over-year growth as many consumers spent more time working remotely.
  • Online buyer growth. The number of UK online buyers purchasing coffee and tea, alcohol, cosmetics, and fashion increased significantly. Across Europe, the closure of restaurants and shoppers’ avoidance of stores helped drive alcohol sales online.
    • In Germany, otto. de grew its active customers in 2020 by 30%.
    • In France, Fnac Darty gained an additional 5 million active online customers. Despite a 28% decline in Inditex’s retail sales in 2020, the fashion company saw 77% e-commerce growth as store closures pushed shoppers online.
    • The number of Western European online fashion buyers will continue to grow in 2021 as lockdown restrictions persist; in fact, clothing sales won’t overtake 2019’s pre-COVID-19 levels until 2022.

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