Covid-19 accelerates e-commerce adoption in the UK and Europe

Research from global payments leader Elavon reveals a significant uptake in online spending among those aged 55-75 and a rise in digital payments, including card and contactless methods, across all demographics. 

In a survey on the e-commerce and payment habits of 1,101 adults across the UK with Ipsos Mori, Elavon found that 47% of 55-75s spent more online than before the start of the ‘lockdown’ period in the UK. The research showed online spending increased across all age groups as more people opt to shop at home. According to recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, online retail sales accounted for 28% of all retail sales in July 2020, a 53% increase on online sales in 2019. 

Elavon’s research also revealed 68% of UK adults will actively opt for contactless and card payments as their preferred method for in-person purchases going forward. Recent figures by UK Finance found that card and contactless payments made-up half of all payments (51%) in the UK in 2019. 

25-34-year olds were the least likely in the UK to use cash, according to Elavon’s research, with just one in 20 seeking to pay using coins or notes. The most likely to use cash were 45-54-year olds at 12%

The research confirmed a similar acceleration of e-commerce and cashless adoption in other parts of Europe. About half of all adults (52%) in the UK, (49%) Ireland and (48%) Poland, compared to about a third (32%) in Germany increased their online spending since COVID-19. As Europe goes cashless: 60% in Ireland and 59% in Poland said they would actively seek to use card or contactless going forward; in Germany, it’s just over a third (34%). 

“Recent trends in online consumer spending and digital payment preferences have accelerated due to COVID-19. Interestingly, we have seen a significant shift in the behaviour of older age groups. Online shopping became crucial when physical stores shut, but with social distancing ingrained and the potential for localised lockdowns, habits seem here to stay,” said Simon Tune, Commercial Director for Elavon Europe.

“It’s a good opportunity for businesses to step-up. The easier companies can make the shopping and payments experience for customers, the more likely they can maximise shopper loyalty and revenue potential.”