Jan 21, 2021
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UK cross-border e-tail sales strong in 2020 says Global-e

Jan 21, 2021

The UK’s outbound cross-border e-commerce rose as much as 57% last year and the peak festive trading month, November, saw an increase of 42% year-on-year as well. That’s according to a report from IMRG and cross-border e-commerce solutions specialist Global-e.

Photo: Public domain/Pexels

The figures come from analysis of more than 270 UK retailers and brands trading internationally on the Global-e platform and they track online sales growth from UK discretionary retail sites to over 200 cross-border destinations. 

There was a consistent increase in cross-border e-tail from April last year and another spike around September with hight rates of cross-border e-tail continuing through the festive shopping season. It appears that while e-commerce in general grew strongly during lockdowns, consumers were increasingly comfortable with buying from abroad.

The companies also said that EU demand exceeded non-EU demand during the year’s final ‘Golden Quarter’. Non-EU volumes were higher for most of the year, but from September to December, EU-based consumers ramped up their shopping from the UK — especially during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events. 

EU shoppers were more reactive to seasonal promotions during the period, but this might not be a habit that will be repeated in the future. The report said they could have could have been influenced by concerns about being able to access their favourite UK brands post-Brexit as a deal wasn’t agreed until late December.

It’s interesting too that Global-e said there was a new shift towards using desktop as a preferred platform for online cross-border purchasing, halting the trend for shoppers to move towards phone and tablet shopping that has been noticeable since at least 2018.

Neil Kuschel, CEO Europe at Global-e, said: “The continued increase that we see in cross-border e-commerce indicates an acceleration in the shift to online retail and emphasises the vital importance of international trading for UK retailers and brands. International e-commerce is critical to balance the retreat in brick and mortar retail and the growing online competition in the domestic market. The well-established and growing demand from non-EU shoppers highlights the huge potential for UK retailers and brands in ROW markets. Importantly, the increased demand from the EU, which even overtook non-EU demand for the first time in a while, highlights a strong and growing appetite for UK brands.”

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