Europe’s online economy, currently worth $53 billion, will grow to $1,200bn within four years, according to a new study conducted by e-commerce research firm Gartner and sponsored by Cisco Sytems.

The survey, which interviewed managers of 805 companies, forecasts annual growth of 87%. Purchases via the web will increase most rapidly at an annual rate of 123%, driving online transactions up to $1,090bn by 2004.

Although Britain will lag behind Germany, Italy and France with a rate of only 82%, it will remain the second biggest online economy, in four years worth $258bn and runner-up to Germany’s $317bn. The UK’s predicted total of $236bn in online sales will be double that of France.

The forecast ranks Britain as leader among Europe’s major e-conomies in terms of percentage of GDP, falling behind only smaller but more e-savvy economies such as Sweden and the Netherlands.

News source: The Times (London)