Adobe Digital Economy Index: UK online spending surges to £28 billion in the first three months of 2021

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The reopening of non-essential retail and hospitality in the UK on the 12th April marked a significant step forward for two of the UK’s hardest hit sectors: hospitality and retail.

As consumers return to shops, bars and restaurants, the Adobe Digital Economy Index reveals the extent to which the UK has become a nation of online shoppers and how consumers expect the digital shopping habits formed over the past 12 months, to change now that consumers have the option of setting foot in physical shops again.

The findings point to Brits being increasingly purposeful online shoppers – visiting more ecommerce sites, transacting more often and spending more in the first three months of the year than ever before. The significant growth and momentum in online shopping, combined with continued caution around the return to physical stores reaffirms the digital economy is here to stay.

The Adobe Digital Economy Index used Adobe Analytics to analyse tens-of-billions of visits to retail sites from UK consumers in the period January to March 2021, and surveyed 1,000 UK consumers in the last week of March to provide the most comprehensive view of digital buying and selling activity.

Global figures are based on analysis of over a trillion visits to ecommerce sites and direct transaction data of consumers from over 80 countries across three regions (Americas, APAC, EMEA) – more than any other technology company or research firm.

The pandemic continues to cause a surge in online spending around the world, with particularly strong growth in the UK. In Q1 alone, UK Consumers spent £28 billion online, equivalent to £217,000 being spent every minute and up 54% year-on-year.

Adobe Analytics also found that web visits from UK consumers to ecommerce sites grew by 29% YoY and the share of web visits that resulted in someone ordering a product increased by 18% YoY. These figures show that UK consumers are highly proficient and comfortable with all aspects of online shopping from browsing through to check-out.

In Q1 UK online shoppers browsed more ecommerce sites, transacted more often, and spent more per transaction

Global online spending surged to £635 billion ($876 billion), up 38% year-on-year in dollar terms. At current growth rates, Adobe forecasts that global eCommerce will hit $4.2 trillion for 2021 – equivalent to the 5th highest GDP in the world.

The Adobe Digital Economy Index survey of 1,000 UK consumers also revealed:

Many consumers remain cautious about visiting physical stores and most will favour those outlets that retain strict virus protection policies such as mask wearing and social distancing:

Appetite for travel is high, but most will stick to the staycations:

Download the full Digital Economy Index report here.