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Last Year, 13% Of Brits Didn't Buy Anything Online. Who Are The Final Holdouts?

4th July 2024

13% of UK shoppers didn't make a single online purchase in 2023, with 16-24 year olds among the most resistant, says the home delivery expert Parcelhero.

New analysis by the home delivery expert Parcelhero says a surprising 13% of UK adults with internet access didn’t buy a single item online in 2023. It says retailers need to think again if they believe all shoppers were permanently lured to e-commerce as a consequence of pandemic lockdowns. It now appears a good few Brits remain to be convinced, with 16-24 year olds among the most reluctant.

Parcelhero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 82% of Brits purchased at least one item online in 2019. E-commerce generally took an unspectacular but consistent 19% of all retail sales immediately before the pandemic lockdowns started in 2020. However, by the time Covid’s impact on retail had peaked in February 2021, this had mushroomed to 37% of all retail sales and the vast majority of UK households seemed to have made the jump online.

‘That’s why the results of our latest consumer survey analysis is so surprising. The fact that 13% of shoppers have resisted e-commerce, even though it provides greater convenience and the added protection of a 14-day no quibble returns policy, will have many pure-play online retailers scratching their heads.

‘Forget the simple explanation that it’s largely the over-55s who returned to their former habits as soon as lockdowns ended. In fact, the largest group spurning online shopping last year was 45-54 year olds (13%). As this group has considerable spending power, e-tailers will be wondering how to win over these doubters. Even more surprisingly, 16-24 year olds weren’t far behind: 12% of this age group said they had bought nothing at all online last year. So much for the myth that Gen Z do everything from their mobiles.

‘Our research will certainly raise some eyebrows. In a representative survey held by Statista in March, just 2% of respondents said that they hadn’t bought anything online that month. However, Amazon is so concerned about younger e-commerce holdouts that it has just introduced a 50% reduction in its Prime membership fee for 18-22 year olds, plus six-months’ free membership, in an effort to win young shoppers over.

‘Our findings also reflect recent research from Micro Biz Mag and Clear Channel. Micro Biz Mag says 11.29% of 2,010 demographically representative people it surveyed in January this year did not purchase anything online in 2023, including 11.90% of 16-24 year olds. Similarly, Clear Channel says that just 20% of 16-24 year olds shop for groceries online while 59% shop solely in store.

‘Just because 12% of Gen Zs seem to be shunning online retail purchases doesn’t mean, however, that they are not influenced by e-commerce. The fast-growing popularity of TikTok and Instagram influencers means that many 16-24 year olds are swayed by items they see online, even if they ultimately make the purchase in store.

‘While the final 13% of shoppers are proving tough to win over, online sales are now showing a consistent post-Covid "new normal". E-commerce accounted for 27.2% of all retail sales in May and 87% of Brits bought online last year.

‘As we have said before, it will be those retailers with strong in-store and online sales that will ultimately triumph in a post-Covid world. Parcelhero’s influential report “2030: Death of the High Street” has been discussed in Parliament. It reveals that, unless retailers develop an omnichannel approach, embracing both online and physical store sales, the High Street as we know it will reach a dead-end by 2030. Read the full report at: