ecommerce statistics

Ecommerce Statistics 2024 – The Numbers

We’re all shopping online, aren’t we? No actually. According to our ecommerce statistics for the UK in 2024, while most of us are shopping online, some aren’t. Find out more in our latest round up of online shopping statistics for 2024.

Bricks and mortar retailers haven’t had it easy, have they? The last few years have brought forced Covid closures, increased competition from online retailers and a cost of living crisis. No doubt, it’s tough times for the High Street.

And even things we might traditionally have preferred to buy in store (like high value items we may want to see or clothing we might want to try) now seeing a surge in online sales, it looks as though bricks and mortar shops will really have to have something unique to offer if they’re to keep pulling in the sales.

But just what are people buying online? How much are spending online in the UK? And does it sound the death knell for the High Street?

We take a look in our 2024 round up of UK ecommerce statistics.

Express Checkout – The Fast Stats

If you want the quick version, here are the figures from our ecommerce research we consider the most important. For more detail, read on.

  • 11% of people in the UK have not made a single online purchase in the last year
  • 89% have made an online purchase in the last year, by the same token
  • The most frequently bought online product is clothing, with over half of Brits buying clothes online in the last year
  • Over 91% of those aged 25 to 34 have made an online purchase in the last year
 

What are people buying online in the UK?

We wanted to know which types of products people are buying online. So in January 2024 we surveyed a demographically representative sample of 2010 people in the UK aged 16 and over to find out what they’ve bought online in the last year.

We asked:

In the last year, what products, if any, have you bought online? (Tick all that apply)

  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Shoes
  • Electronics
  • Beauty products
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Toys
  • Alcohol drinks
  • Soft drinks
  • Jewellery
  • DIY equipment
  • Over the counter health products (e.g. paracetamol, supplements etc)
  • Flowers and plants
  • Gardening equipment
  • Furniture (indoor)
  • DVDs
  • None – I have not made an online purchase in the last 12 months
  • CDs/Vinyl
  • Garden furniture
  • Prescription medication
  • Home fitness equipment
  • Other (please specify)

 

Here’s how people answered.

In the last year, what products, if any, have you bought online?
Response% of people who gave this response
Clothing50.25%
Food36.22%
Shoes33.98%
Electronics26.82%
Beauty Products25.02%
Kitchen Appliances21.34%
Toys20.85%
Alcoholic Drinks19.15%
Soft Drinks18.51%
Jewellery16.12%
DIY equipment15.92%
Over the counter health products (e.g. paracetamol, supplements etc)13.28%
Flowers and plants12.84%
Gardening equipment12.64%
Furniture (indoor)12.54%
DVDs11.34%
None – I have not made an online purchase in the last 12 months11.29%
CDs/Vinyl10.20%
Garden furniture9.70%
Prescription medication9.60%
Home fitness equipment6.52%
Other2.54%

Ecommerce statistics UK 2024 by sector

How many people are shopping online in the UK in 2024?

 

89% of people in the UK have bought something online in the year ending December 2023.

Just 11.29% of respondents across all age groups in our survey said they haven’t bought anything online at all in the past year.

We broke this data down to take a look at the proportion of people who said they bought nothing online in the last year by age, gender and region within the UK.

In terms of age, we see little variation:

 

AgeProportion of People Who Say They Bought Nothing Online in the Last Year
16-2411.90%
25-348.39%
35-4411.08%
45-5412.50%
55+11.86%

online shopping habits by age

It may come as a surprise to some, however, to find that those aged 16 to 24 are just a tiny bit likelier to buy nothing online than those aged 55 and over.

 

The age group, however, most likely to say they bought nothing online in the last year was the 45 – 54 year olds, 12.5% of whom have done no online shopping in the last 12 months.

 

Meanwhile, over 91% of those aged 25 – 34 have bought something online in the last year.

 

When it comes to gender, men are the likelier to say they haven’t shopped online.

 

GenderProportion of People Who Say They Bought Nothing Online in the Last Year
Male12.67%
Female9.99%

 

We saw some noticeable variations from region to region.

 

UK RegionProportion of People Who Say They Bought Nothing Online in the Last Year
East of England11.17%
Greater London7.00%
East Midlands10.74%
West Midlands12.43%
North East14.81%
North West13.45%
Northern Ireland6.78%
Scotland9.30%
South East14.86%
South West13.13%
Wales11.34%
Yorkshire and the Humber8.77%
 

Almost 15% of those in the North East and South East say they didn’t buy anything online in the last year. 

At the opposite end of the scale, just over 6% of those in Northern Ireland said the same. 

What are we buying online – by age?

We broke down the specific things people have bought online over the past year by age. This is what we found.

Proportion of people (by age) who’ve bought each type of item online in the last year
Items16-2425-3435-4445-5455+
Clothing39.78%42.55%50.63%58.33%53.46%
Food30.48%34.78%41.14%40.48%34.94%
Shoes28.25%32.30%33.54%41.37%33.64%
Electronics20.07%21.43%32.28%27.98%28.68%
Beauty products26.39%26.71%23.10%27.98%23.34%
Kitchen appliances13.75%18.32%18.99%24.70%24.77%
Toys14.50%23.60%26.58%21.73%19.17%
Alcohol drinks18.22%20.50%19.62%21.13%17.86%
Soft drinks19.70%22.67%16.14%23.81%14.99%
Jewellery24.16%17.70%12.97%16.96%13.56%
DIY equipment12.64%10.87%13.29%15.77%20.34%
Over the counter health products (e.g. paracetamol, supplements etc)11.52%13.35%9.81%16.37%13.95%
Flowers and plants10.41%9.01%9.81%13.39%16.30%
Gardening equipment7.43%9.32%10.76%9.82%17.86%
Furniture (indoor)10.41%12.42%16.14%14.29%11.08%
DVDs5.95%9.63%11.08%13.39%13.17%
None – I have not made an online purchase in the last 12 months11.90%8.39%11.08%12.50%11.86%
CDs/Vinyl8.55%8.39%6.01%8.63%13.95%
Garden furniture6.69%11.18%8.54%10.12%10.43%
Prescription medication14.13%13.04%5.06%9.82%8.34%
Home fitness equipment7.43%9.01%9.81%6.25%3.91%
Other0.74%1.24%0.00%2.68%4.69%
 

Key facts:

  • The most popular item for online purchase across all age groups was clothing (but with huge variations age to age in terms of how many people buy clothes online)
  • Younger people aged 16 to 24 are the least likely to be buying clothes online (39.78% have done so in the last year compared with 58% of 45 to 54 year olds)
  • However, people in the 16 to 24 age group are the most likely to be buying jewellery and prescription medication online

Let’s take a look at each of these age groups in more detail.

Ecommerce Statistics – 16 to 24 Year Olds

Our survey findings revealed that 16 to 24 year olds are actually the least likely to be buying clothing online. Under 40% of them have done so in the last year.

In terms of the most bought items online according to our poll:

  1. Clothing (39.78% have bought online in the last year)
  2. Food (30.48%)
  3. Shoes (28.25%)
  4. Beauty Products (26.39%)
  5. Jewellery (24.16%)

88.1% of 16 to 24 year olds have made a purchase online in the last year.

Ecommerce Statistics – 25 to 34 Year Olds

More 25 to 34 year olds bought garden furniture online in the last year than any other age group. 

The most purchased items online amongst 25 to 34 year olds in the UK are:

  1. Clothing (42.55%)
  2. Food (34.78%)
  3. Shoes (32.30%)
  4. Beauty products (26.71%)
  5. Toys (23.60%)

91.61% of 25 to 34 year olds in the UK have made a purchase online in the last year.

Ecommerce Statistics – 35 to 44 Year Olds

This age group is the most likely to have bought food, electronics, toys, furniture and home fitness equipment online in the last year.

Their most purchased items online based on our survey statistics:

  1. Clothing (50.63%)
  2. Food (41.14%)
  3. Shoes (33.54%)
  4. Electronics (32.28%)
  5. Toys (26.58%)

88.92% of 35 to 44 year olds have made a purchase online in the last year.

Ecommerce Statistics – 45 to 54 Year Olds

This is the age group likeliest to have purchased clothing, shoes, alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, over the counter health products and DVDs online in the last year.

Their most purchased items online from the last year are:

  1. Clothing (58.33%)
  2. Shoes (41.37%)
  3. Food (40.48%)
  4. Electronics (27.98%)
  5. Beauty Products (27.98%)

This is also the age group most likely to say they haven’t made any purchases online in the last year. That said, 87.5% have bought something online in the past 12 months.

Ecommerce Statistics – 55 and Over

This is the age group most likely to have bought kitchen appliances, DIY equipment, flowers and plants, gardening equipment and CDs or vinyl online in the last year.

Their most commonly bought items online:

  1. Clothing (53.46%)
  2. Food (34.94%)
  3. Shoes (33.64%)
  4. Electronics (28.68%)
  5. Kitchen appliances (24.77%)

88.14% of over 55s in the UK have bought something online in the last year.

Does Gender Affect What We Buy Online?

Yes.

There are some notable variations in the online shopping habits of men and women.

For example:

  • Women are considerably more likely than men (58.68% of women vs 41.37% of men) to have bought clothing online in the last year
  • Men, on the other hand, are likelier than women (32.18% vs 21.73%) to buy electronics online
Proportion of people (by gender) who’ve bought each type of item online in the last year
ItemsMaleFemale
Clothing41.37%58.68%
Food31.46%40.74%
Shoes29.52%38.22%
Electronics32.18%21.73%
Beauty products10.42%38.89%
Kitchen appliances19.92%22.70%
Toys16.75%24.73%
Alcohol drinks19.61%18.72%
Soft drinks16.65%20.27%
Jewellery9.70%22.21%
DIY equipment20.33%11.74%
Over the counter health products (e.g. paracetamol, supplements etc)12.26%14.26%
Flowers and plants9.40%16.10%
Gardening equipment13.38%11.93%
Furniture (indoor)10.93%14.06%
DVDs14.40%8.44%
None – I have not made an online purchase in the last 12 months12.67%9.99%
CDs/Vinyl12.56%7.95%
Garden furniture9.09%10.28%
Prescription medication9.81%9.41%
Home fitness equipment5.82%7.18%
Other2.66%2.42%

online shopping habits by gender and sector

Government Data on Ecommerce Statistics

The Digital Economy Survey 2021 (published in April 2023) highlights some impressive ecommerce spending figures.

 

It found:

 

  • Businesses in the UK non-financial sector made website sales amounting to £459.2 billion in 2021 alone. This represented an increase of 28.8% against the 2019 figure of  £102.8 billion
  • 59.4% of UK website sales were through websites belonging to businesses with 1,000 or more employees. This is £272.8 billion in sales for bigger companies
  • Unsurprisingly (given the nature of ecommerce), the retail sector was the industry making up the largest chunk of sales with 34.5%. 
  • Total sales from UK websites to customers outside of the UK amounted to £77.8 billion in 2021

 

Internet Sales as a Percentage of Overall Retail Sales

Numbers regularly published by the Office of National Statistics looks at the percentage of overall sales. Here’s how that looks going back to 2006.

We can see that:

proportion of all retail sales which were online

  • As of November 2023, 30.7% of all retail sales were online (up from 26.3% in October). However, we often see notable increases in proportion of retail sales made online in November each year. The highest ever portion of retail sales made online came in January 2021 when 37.8% of sales were such. This was brought about by the pandemic and we see, throughout the data, peaks aligning with lockdowns.

The future of ecommerce?

The future we all predicted years ago is here, where online shopping it now normality. 

However, we’re likely to see even more changes and developments in years to come.

We comfortably shop now on desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Shopping on home assistants and voice led devices hasn’t really taken off yet. There’s much talk in the space of VR and AR shopping experiences but again, this is still very much emerging and by no means mainstream.

And of course, with astronomical developments in AI over recent years, we’re yet to see what impact this might have on how we shop.

So what will happen in 2024? Well, I guess we’ll take a look when we come back and look at the figures once more at the start of 2025.

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