The European e-commerce market grew by 13% last year, to €718 billion, but is likely to face similar challenges to the wider retail sector, a new report by Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce has found.
The 2022 European E-commerce Report found that the growth rate for e-commerce has remained stable, with a marginal rise compared to 2020, even despite the loosening of COVID restrictions.
The report identifies two key trends – firstly, that e-commerce sales are starting to normalise following the heightened sales patterns of the pandemic period, with growth slowly stabilising.
Secondly, it notes that consumers are being more careful in their spending, due to the inflation, the effects of the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruption and a general feeling of uncertainty.
"Though still difficult to evaluate, the war in Ukraine will have major consequences on the European economy, as well as on e-commerce markets," commented Luca Cassetti, secretary general of Ecommerce Europe.
"Many of our members have already reported declines in consumer purchasing power and confidence, mostly due to high energy prices, inflation and uncertainty about the future."
Nonetheless, the report notes that the fact that e-commerce sales are only experiencing a small decline so far shows that the digital commerce sector has become 'indispensable and very resilient'.
Additionally, the online services industry, such as e-tourism, events and ticketing, experienced a steady recovery during this past year.
“The retail and wholesale sector is transforming significantly to become more digital, more sustainable and to attract new talent," added Christel Delberghe, director general of EuroCommerce. "We estimate that businesses will have to double their investment up to 2030 successfully achieve that transformation."
Delberghe added that both EuroCommerce and Ecommerce Europe will be monitoring the implementation and enforcement of the EU's Digital Agenda closely, "to ensure that Europe provides an environment conducive to innovation while ensuring fair competition".
According to the report, Western Europe is, by far, the strongest region in terms of B2C e-commerce turnover, holding 63% of the total turnover for 2021. Southern Europe follows in second place with 16% of total turnover, while Central Europe and Northern Europe come in third and fourth (10% and 9% respectively), followed by Eastern Europe (2%).