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Europeans to spend €100bn online this year

2006 will be the first year to see European shoppers spend over €100bn online, and analysts say that figure will more than double in the next five years.

A report from Forrester Research suggests that €263bn will be spent online in 2011, by which point UK e-shoppers will apparently be outspending their US counterparts with an average annual outlay of €2,410.

Britons are already the most enthusiastic online shoppers in Europe, spending an average of €1,744 each year.

"It's building up every year in the countries where it started first, such as the UK or Sweden," the report's author, Jaap Favier, told ZDNet UK.

According to Favier, later adopters of e-commerce — such as France — are only about two years behind the UK, and will soon have a higher growth rate in spending.

"What is driving ecommerce growth is, first of all, ever-more people going online, and ever-more people taking on broadband," Favier said on Monday.

"Consumers take about a year after going online before they will purchase something online. The first thing they purchase is either a book, a CD or a trip. Those people who have been online for a while are extending their buying into other categories such as clothing or electronics," he added.

Favier described those who have broadband and always search for the best deals as "technology optimists, people who believe technology can improve their life", and claimed they now comprise half of all Europeans with Internet access.

However, he suggested that there were differing motivators for e-commerce uptake in various countries. For example, in Germany, a shaky economic situation meant shoppers were looking for the best deals online.

Meanwhile, in the UK, which Favier described as a "more optimistic economy", he attributed the explosion in online shopping to "quite a few people, not even very wealthy people, who are happy to pay a little bit more for convenience, for example buying from Tesco online instead of going down to the shop".

The report said that travel bookings are taking the lion's share of European online spending, but suggests that the next five years will see an explosion in Web-based sales of clothing and consumer electronics.
David Meyer