Global study names the UK as Europe’s largest online exporter

Published on: 12th September 2018

Results show more overseas shoppers have bought from UK online businesses than any other European country.

The fourth-annual Global Cross-Border Commerce report, conducted by Ipsos on behalf of PayPal, interviewed 34,000 people across 31 countries and reveals the importance of American consumers to British businesses.

The study found that 1 in 7 (14%) of global online shoppers have bought goods from the UK in the past 12 months. The next popular destination in Europe is Germany, with 1 in 10 (10%) global online shoppers buying from this country.

Europe’s top 5 online exporters are:
1. UK
2. Germany
3. France
4. Italy
5. Netherlands

The US is the largest export market for UK online businesses. Shoppers from the US bought an estimated £12.5b worth of goods from the UK in the past 12 months – more than any previous year. China has been identified as another key market for UK online businesses, buying an estimated £5.7b worth of products in the past 12 months.

The new research also reveals the importance of European markets to British exports, with cross-border shoppers in France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden all choosing the UK as one of the ‘top 3’ countries to buy from.

The main reason given why shoppers buy from foreign countries was ‘to seek a bargain’, with 7 in 10 (72%) respondents who shop cross-border indicating that they buy from other countries because of cheaper prices. PayPal’s data suggests that the fall in the pound following the EU referendum has made UK goods even more attractive.

Globally, clothing is the most popular category for cross-border purchases, with 7 in 10 (68%) of online cross-border shoppers buying clothes from other countries in the past year. Toys and hobbies came in joint second, at 53%.

PayPal’s report also suggests that the future is bright for UK companies, with 2 in 5 (42%) global online shoppers saying that their spend would increase over the next 12 months.


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