Online Shopping Statistics: COVID-19 Influence, Trends, and More

Online shopping comes with many possibilities and benefits. In today’s world, e-commerce — often used as a synonym for online shopping — has gained momentum. Online shopping statistics indicate that over 25% of the global population are what is called digital buyers.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns increased online shopping rates globally. Not to mention that, in many cases, you can find cheaper items online than in a physical store.

In today’s fast-paced world, younger people tend to purchase products and services online rather than wasting time going to a store. It’s no wonder Millennials are the most likely to shop online. Let’s dig into these statistics to learn more about this development in the world of shopping.

Internet Shopping Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • More than 2.14 billion people shop online in 2021.
  • In the UK, e-commerce accounts for over a quarter of total retail sales.
  • Men spend more per online transaction than women.
  • About 32% of UK online shoppers purchased food online in 2020.
  • In 2020, the UK ranked third among the largest e-commerce markets worldwide.
  • In July 2021, SHEIN was the most downloaded shopping app in Great Britain.

How Many People Shop Online?

1. In 2021, over 2.14 billion people shop online.

(Oberlo)

That accounts for 27.6% of the world’s total population. It’s quite a remarkable figure, especially if we consider how relatively recent online shopping started expanding.

According to the online shopping statistics in 2021, the number of digital shoppers grew 4.4% compared to the year before. Further, it translates into 900 million additional people buying online. It should not be a surprise, considering the progress in the e-commerce sphere and the rise of connectivity.

2. In the UK, e-commerce accounts for over a quarter of total retail sales.

(Osome)

Online shopping statistics in the UK for 2021 indicate that this will increase to one-third by 2024. For instance, by the end of 2021, the revenue of the e-commerce market is expected to reach £80,678 million. By 2025, it will rise to around £92,464 million. That means that CAGR is expected to grow by 3.5% annually in the mentioned period.

3. In Great Britain, members of the 25–34 age group had the most online purchasing penetration in 2020.

(Statista)

Looking at recent statistics on online shopping vs in-store shopping in the UK, 99% of individuals between 25 and 34 shop online. That’s a staggering percentage of individuals who prefer online shopping to in-store shopping!

Following this age group, 96% of those aged 16–24 shop online. Next, 95% in the age groups of 35–44 and 45–54 have made purchases online. Lastly, those over the age of 65 have an online purchase percentage of 65%.

4. Men spend an average of $69 more per online transaction than women.

(KPMG)

According to the latest available research on this topic, men spend an average of $220 per online transaction, while women spend $151.

However, there is one essential fact about online shopping behind this. Men purchase more luxury goods — approximately 55%. Likewise, men are responsible for 72% of electronics transactions. On the other hand, women tend to shop online for lower-priced categories, such as food and cosmetics.

5. In 2019, retail sales in the UK dropped by 0.6%, month on month.

(Interparcel)

The general perspective of high street sales was bleak even before COVID-19, especially with Brexit and the uncertainty that followed. Despite being the worst year for sales in 25 years, online sales increased to 19%.

If we compare online shopping vs high street statistics, we can see that the former is becoming a favoured option for Brits. That is why to adapt, huge retailers are shifting toward online platforms and increasing their digital presence to increase sales.

Online Shopping Statistics: COVID Influence, Trends, and More

What Are People Buying Online?

6. In 2020, about 32% of UK digital buyers purchased restaurant delivery and fast food.

(Office for National Statistics)

Among the most favourite items that year were clothes and sports goods (55%). Printed books, newspapers, and magazines were third in the most popular e-commerce sales, with 29% of UK digital buyers purchasing these items.

Alternatively, the least popular items were mopeds, cars, bicycles, and spare parts. For reference, less than 10% of households purchased these online.

7. In 2021, 27.9% of the expected global e-commerce revenue comes from fashion-related products.

(Oberlo)

Revenue generated speaks volumes about the fact that fashion products are at the top of all internet purchases. For example, in 2021, according to recent online shopping statistics and trends, shoppers are expected to spend $759.5 billion on fashion-related products.

To paint a clearer picture, over one in four dollars will go to fashion this year. Despite the significant growth (15% year-on-year), it’s still slower than the pre-pandemic rates. Namely, the 2019/2020 increase was 26.5%.

8. In the first 10 weeks of 2020, the online sales of virus protection products grew by 800%.

(Oberlo)

Furthermore, medicines for flu, pain, and colds skyrocketed by 217%. Similarly, toilet paper sales went up by 231%. However, these are not the only product categories that online shopping statistics shows to have booming sales in 2020.

With gyms and other recreational facilities shut down, the need for fitness equipment rose by 55% in March alone. In addition to that, home furnishings sales went up by 13% in early March.

Online Shopping Statistics During COVID

9. In 2020, e-commerce accounted for 30% of total retail sales in the UK.

(Emarketer)

The primary reason for this was the closing of retail stores during COVID-19 lockdowns. That was the first time online sales accounted for more than 30% of total retail sales.

For reference, in 2019, this percentage was only 21.8%. Despite the predicted decline of 6.3% when the market returns to normal by the end of 2021, online retail shopping will continue to increase. Online shopping growth statistics in the UK show that it will continue rising steadily until 2024 to reach 2020 levels.

10. During the height of lockdown in the UK, about 42% of online shoppers said that they plan to do more online shopping in the future.

(Emarketer)

Even when non-essential establishments opened again in August of 2021, around 55% of online shoppers still want to do more shopping online. For reference, in 2020, around 45.4 million people purchased items online in the UK. Compared against the whole population, that is a remarkable 81.1% of UK citizens.

According to online shopping statistics, the UK is among the leading nations globally with the most number of digital buyers.

11. In the US, online shopping sales were expected to reach almost $795 billion by the end of 2020.

(Emarketer)

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the growth of 32.4% year over year. These stats by far surpass the predictions for this period from before the pandemic. These online shopping growth rates weren’t predicted to happen before 2022.

Although groceries were the most essential category that people shifted toward for online purchases, consumer electronics and furniture were also popular items. The online segment accounted for 14.4% of the total US retail spending (excluding gas and auto sales), pushing e-commerce penetration to 20.6%.

Online Shopping Statistics: COVID Influence, Trends, and More

Global Online Shopping Statistics in 2021

12. Amazon has over 300 million active customers online.

(Amazon)

In addition to that, these accounts come from over 180 countries, which makes Amazon one of the largest online retailers. Based on e-commerce statistics from its official website, third-party Selling Partners on Amazon accounted for over $3.5 billion in sales on 2020’s Prime Day.

Prime Day is Amazon’s annual best deals event for its Prime members. Moreover, there are over 150 million Prime subscribers.

13. In 2020, the UK was the third-largest e-commerce market worldwide with a value of €212.9 billion.

(JP Morgan)

Even before COVID-19, online shopping trends in the UK had been greatly shaping the country’s economy. For example, it accumulated 16.5% of the total annual business turnover.

The only two countries in the world ahead of the UK were China and the US. On the other hand, in Europe, the UK doesn’t have a match when it comes to the online shopping market because it has online sales revenues that surpass those of the two biggest markets combined — France and Germany.

14. In 2021, around 40% of Brits stated they would continue shopping for food online even after the pandemic is over.

(Statista)

By the turn of 2020, approximately 10% of UK shoppers bought food online at least once per week. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed online grocery shopping statistics in the UK forward, with the lockdown forcing people to stay in their homes.

In that spirit, many retailers offered meals, beverages, groceries, and similar products online. Such examples are in Morrisons, Amazon Fresh, and a few others. Yet, the leader was most definitely Tesco. If you wonder why, just look at the results of a survey where 45% of UK shoppers said they ordered at least once from this retailer.

Latest E-commerce Trends

15. In 2020, about 49% of people abandoned their shopping carts due to extra costs being too high.

(Baymard Institute)

Taxes, shipping, and other fees often dissuade consumers from completing their online purchases. Aside from this, the need to create an account is one of the main reasons (24%) for cart abandonment in internet shopping, statistics show.

Other reasons include a slow delivery process (19%) or a complicated checkout process (18%). Furthermore, 17% of online shoppers don’t trust the site to confidentiality handle their credit card information.

16. About 81% of consumers trust the advice of their friends and family over that of businesses.

(HubSpot)

55% of consumers don’t trust the businesses they buy from as much as they used to. Moreover, 65–69% distrust company press releases and ads and 71% don’t trust social media ads.

Recent online shopping stats confirm that misinformation and data collection issues by companies caused consumer trust to shift. So today, shoppers prefer Yelp, Glassdoor, Trip Advisor, or other review websites to help them decide.

17. Poor customer experience causes 80% of people to stop using a company’s online services.

(HubSpot)

Having ample knowledge of customer satisfaction statistics will help any business with customer retention. When customers are unhappy, they will switch to another service company or stop buying your products.

There are many players in the market for almost all types of business, so this should be kept in mind. According to the online sales statistics, churn rates are much higher if companies don’t invest in good customer support.

18. In 2020, 55% of UK consumers shopped online to compare prices.

(Statista)

The surveys conducted from 2018 to 2020 all indicate that this is a continuous trend. For instance, in 2018 and 2019, the percentage of consumers who shopped online to compare prices was 55% and 54%, respectively.

Based on the latest UK e-commerce statistics, the second-most important motivation for online shopping was having a wider variety of choices (51% in 2020). Next, around 49% of the motivation lies in the easier search and buying process.

Of course, some people find it cheaper to shop online than in-store (44%). Finally, 44% of consumers just like shopping from the comfort of their homes.

19. After seeing a product on Instagram, 87% of consumers take action.

(Facebook)

The actions consumers take include following the brand, visiting their webpage, or even purchasing items. To go into detail, approximately 65% of consumers visit the brand’s app or website. Further, 37% enter the retail store. Finally, the most important out of all, 46% make a purchase either online or offline.

Additional internet shopping statistics from Facebook shows that 80% of people surveyed by Instagram responded that Instagram helped them decide whether to buy a service or product. That paves the way for many digital marketing jobs in London and the rest of the UK as well.

Mobile Commerce Statistics

20. 65% of e-commerce traffic comes from mobile sources.

(Sale Cycle)

However, only 53% of sales are from this channel. In 2019, there were 1.07 billion cart abandonments. When comparing online shopping trends for desktop and mobile sources, fashion retailers stand out.

Specifically, fashion retailers have higher mobile traffic compared to other industries. Approximately 75% of their traffic comes from mobile sources. They also have a larger portion of sales (67%). On top of that, 89.3% of mobile traffic in fashion retail is converted into sales.

21. In July 2021, the most downloaded shopping app in Great Britain was SHEIN.

(Statista)

Based on the number of downloads, SHEIN topped the list of best Android shopping apps in Great Britain. Online shopping facts show that this fashion retailer founded in China in 2008 was downloaded 318,300 times on British Android smartphones. eBay ranked second, with approximately 294,700 downloads.

22. Out of 10 consumers, 7 prefer mobile websites over apps.

(ReadyCloud Suite)

Specifically, 67% of smartphone users and 71% of tablet users choose mobile websites over apps. That brings us to the average of 70% of users preferring mobile websites rather than mobile applications. Keeping in mind these trends of online shopping, hiring the best web developers in the UK is crucial in maintaining customer satisfaction.

23. In 2019, online sales via smartphones hit a new record during Cyber Monday, accounting for 33% of total sales.

(Adobe)

According to Adobe’s online shopping statistics, the year-on-year growth of overall mobile sales was 46%. In addition to that, 54% of the traffic on retail sites came from smartphones. Some Cyber Monday top sellers included L.O.L Surprise Dolls, NERF, Madden 20, Nintendo Switch, Samsung TVs, Airpods, Air Fryers, and many more.

Online Shopping Statistics: COVID Influence, Trends, and More

UK Online Shopping Statistics — The Bottom Line

With the rise of technology and a higher degree of personalisation, the online shopping experience will become more complex. At the same time, it will better meet the needs of consumers and eventually overtake in-store shopping.

Some consumers still feel safer when searching through brick and mortar stores. However, at the moment, online and in-store shopping are more complementary than we think. For example, the growth of online shopping creates educated in-store customers who know what they want and shop with ease.

Additionally, online shopping provides an opportunity for retailers to expand their business without the high costs that come with opening up a physical store.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are approximately 7.74 billion people in the world today. Out of this number, 2.14 billion people shopped online in 2021. That means one in four people partake in e-commerce activities.

The number of online buyers is steadily increasing, with a year-on-year growth rate of 4.4% from 2020. That said, 38% of consumers in the UK purchase products online at least once a week.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce retail sales accounted for more than 30% of retail sales in the UK. This amounts to £132.45 billion in sales. Online retailers have been gaining ground each year for the past decade. However, the projected online retail statistics in the UK released by eMarketer shows that there might be a 6.3% post-pandemic decline in online sales.

The most popular items purchased were household furnishings and clothes. According to the ONS, holiday accommodations, event tickets, and travel arrangements were the next big thing purchased online.

Men spend more on online shopping than women. For reference, men spend an average of $220 per transaction, while women spend $151 per transaction. This difference lies in the type of items and services that are often purchased. For example, men are likely to purchase luxury products.

When it comes to different age groups, 93% of American parents say that Gen Z children in their household greatly influence their family’s purchase habits. Some predictions state that this generation will be responsible for 40% of the overall online spending.

Online shopping in the UK has been on the rise for years now. In November 2020, the highest recorded growth was by department stores. Data from the Office of National Statistics show a 157.2% increase in online shopping for this category compared to the year before.

Similarly, household goods went through a significant growth phase, with a 124.7% increase from the year before. However, this category was already on the rise back in 2019. For instance, 19.7% of all sales in this segment transpired online.

Despite the apparent benefits of online shopping, it can still have its downsides.

First of all, one of the common disadvantages is shipping delays, which can frustrate the customer. Secondly, you don’t get to feel and see the product you’re thinking of purchasing, which makes it harder to decide whether to buy it or not. Lastly, internet frauds are common and harder to spot every day. Hence, the security of payment information is a top concern among consumers and one of the reasons for distrust.

In 2020, over 50% of the UK population purchased clothes, accessories, and shoes on the internet. Typically, it was more widespread among women. However, men aren’t falling behind that much.

According to the latest e-commerce stats, Amazon was the leader in clothes shopping in the country. Likewise, local brands, such as ASOS, Marks and Spencer, and Debenhams, were also favoured by online shoppers. Lastly, a majority of consumers shopped two to three times in three months.

Many experts say that online shopping may replace traditional shopping someday. In fact, physical stores now have online stores as well to adapt to the rising trend in online shopping. With the many advantages of online shopping, it’s not far from happening.

However, traditional shopping is still going strong today. Online shopping does have its drawbacks — lack of security, identity theft, and the inability to inspect items physically. So, even though online shopping statistics show that this shopping method is rising, traditional shopping would be tough to replace.