LONDON: The European mobile retail audience has grown by almost half in the past 12 months, with one in seven consumers having completed a retail transaction on their mobile phone in the previous four weeks, according to a new survey. 

Data from comScore, the digital measurement company, indicated that the number of smartphone users accessing retail sites in five leading EU countries – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – had risen 43% to 31.8m. This amounted to one fifth of all smartphone owners accessing online retail sites and apps using their device and represented a 2.8 percentage point increase on the previous year.

Germany had the largest number of smartphone users accessing retail sites (9.9m), followed by the UK with 9.7m.

The fastest growing markets, however, were further south. Spain registered a 66.5% increase to 3.3m million smartphone users accessing retail sites on their mobile. Italy ranked second with a growth rate of 61.3% to almost 5.6m.

France was the slowest-growing market at just 11.7%, with the number of total users similar to that in Spain.

When looking at the year-on-year growth of smartphone owners accessing online retail sites, however, Italy ranked first with a 4.8 percentage point increase, followed by Spain with a rise of 3.1 percentage points.

Some 14.6% of European smartphone users purchased goods or services via their device in August 2013, according to the survey. The most popular category was clothing or accessories, bought by 5.4% of the smartphone audience.

This was followed by consumer electronics/household appliances (3.8%), books (3.8%), tickets (3.4%) and personal care or hygiene products (2.6%).

The survey further found that around 37m smartphone owners had taken a picture of a product whilst in a retail store. This was the most popular in-store activity, performed by 23.5% of users.

These pictures were often used in seeking advice from friends and family when making purchase decisions – 14.3% sent a picture of a product – while 14% called or texted instead.

Other actions undertaken in-store included scanning a bar code (10.9%) and comparing product prices (7.9%).

Data sourced from comScore; additional content by Warc staff