UK: Despite coming of age during hard economic times, younger European consumers that are 25 through 34 years old are more likely to engage in online spending than other groups, and are helping propel the growth of e-commerce in the region, according to a leading IHS expert speaking at the IHS PEVE Entertainment 2013 Conference.
E-commerce retail sales in major European economies expanded in a range from 125 percent in France to 37 percent Germany during the period from 2008 to 2012, as presented in the attached table. In contrast, total retail spending declined in most European countries during the same period.
Across the continent, consumers in the 25 through 34 age range are driving the expansion of e-commerce, with approximately 85 percent of people in this group on average for the UK, Germany, France, and Norway engaging in online purchasing in 2012, up from 75 percent in 2008. Residents aged 35 through 44 used online purchasing at the second-highest rate, at 80 percent on average in 2012 for these countries, up from 66 percent in 2008.
“Hard times have disproportionately fallen on the young in Europe and these consumers are not doing that well financially because of the recession,” said Chris G. Christopher, Jr., director, global and US Consumer Markets at IHS, in his presentation to the PEVE audience.
“However, they still do buy certain things with their discretionary income. And when making these purchases, these younger age cohorts have a higher propensity to buy online, rather than using brick-and-mortar retail outlets. Because of this, “clicks” increasingly are outpacing “bricks” among European consumers.”
Christopher noted that younger consumers also are leading the way in online purchasing in other European economies. In general, Northern European countries are ahead of Southern nations in terms of online purchasing, he added.
Incomes for European consumers aged 18 through 24 and 25 through 49 began falling in 2007 in the United Kingdom and in 2009 in Spain, Norway and Poland. Consumers in these age ranges have fared better in Italy, Germany and Portugal, with their income flattening out, rather than declining, in 2009.
Unemployment rates for consumers aged 15 through 39 were in the double digits in 2010 in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Poland. Spain is faring the worst of these large economies, at almost 25 percent. Germany and Norway performed much better at 9.8 percent and 5.5 percent respectively.
Beyond their economic travails and affinity for online purchasing, younger European consumers have other key differences with their older counterparts.
For instance, European men and women are waiting longer to get married, with the average age increasing dramatically.
European women in general are getting more education than men, with females more likely to graduate from college than men in most countries.
Women in the region also are waiting longer to have children. The total fertility rate has fallen below the 2.0 children per woman mark for almost all major economies, indicating that population growth is either shrinking or very weak.