LONDON: Online retail sales are set to increase by almost 20% in Europe this year, although the rate of expansion will slow when compared with 2009.

A study by Kelkoo, the price comparison website, and the Centre for Retail Research predicted that e-commerce revenues in the region will climb by 19.6%, to £152.8 billion ($243bn; €178bn), in 2010.

This follows on from an improvement of 22% in 2009, and means that 5.5% of retail returns will be attributable to the internet this year, up from 4.7% over the previous 12 months.

Bruce Fair, managing director of Kelkoo UK, said "2010 is when we will really start to see online sales achieving a significant share of retail trade in most European countries."

Growth rates will reach 36% in Poland, 31% in France, and 25% in Spain, despite the impact of the economic downturn.

By contrast, the UK will record an uptick of just 12.4%, although the country will remain the most valuable across the continent in 2010.

According to the Kelkoo–CRR report, British shoppers made £38bn of purchases on the net last year, an increase of 12% on 2008.

This also equated to some 9.5% of the domestic retail market, with acquisitions undertaken via this route set to stand at £42.7bn in 2010.

Germany generated revenues of £29.7bn in 2009, followed by France, on £22bn, with these two countries, along with the UK, being responsible for 70% of regional e-commerce sales in this period.

At the other end of the spectrum, Poland delivered just £2.2bn, with Finland on £2.3bn, and Norway on £2.9bn.
In terms of the typical expenditure per person, the UK again topped the charts, on £1,102, followed by Denmark, on £1,079, and Norway, on £979, and a regional mean figure of £758.

Moreover, shoppers in Britain spent an average of £37 per item, and also bought the most products from online outlets over the course of 2009.

Looking forward, the number of people in the country who said they would buy a single object worth more than £1,000 using the web climbed from 12% in 2009 to 25% this year, Kelkoo found. 
Cristina Rebollo, PR Director of Kelkoo UK, argued that in, the UK at least, chains with both an internet and bricks-and-mortar presence were performing most successfully at present.
"It is brands that people know and trust, such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, that have the highest rates of growth online," she said. 

"The retailers that are performing best are performing across multiple platforms. They are diversifying the ways that people can reach you."

Previously, the Centre for Retail Research has forecast that online sales will rise by 10% in the US in 2010, to a share of 7% in all.

Data sourced from AP, Reuters, The Herald; additional content by Warc staff