Online retail sales in Europe will double by 2018 to €323 billion according to a new survey by market research firm Mintel.
In a survey of 19 markets in Europe published by Reuters, Mintel predicted that online sales would grow to €188 billion in 2013 from €166 billion in 2012.
Mintel said Germany, Britain and France would remain by far the biggest markets for online retail by 2018, although the Netherlands, Spain and Poland should grow at a faster rate and Norway and Sweden have the highest online per-capita spend.
"There is a big North-South divide in e-commerce in Europe," said Mintel European retail analyst John Mercer, noting French participation levels lag Britain and Germany by five years and Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy are even further behind.
Mintel said Amazon – the retail portal – is extending its lead on the continent, growing market share to 9.8% in 2012 from 9.2% in 2011, while Germany's Otto, its next closest rival, saw its share slip to 3.3% from 3.9%.
Brits shopping online for groceries
Mintel predicted Amazon could double its Europe-wide market share in the next three to four years despite negative publicity in Britain over its low tax bills and in Germany prompted by strikes at its distribution centres.
Mercer said Amazon was performing strongly despite having only five dedicated country websites in Europe – in Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
British grocers are also well represented in Mintel's European top 10, with Tesco holding its market share steady at 2.3% and Walmart-owned Asda and Sainsbury on 1.1% and 0.9% respectively, reflecting the popularity of online grocery shopping in Britain.
"In mainland Europe, online shopping is largely non-grocery," Mercer said. "That is not going to change fast."
The Mintel report said Britain and France have the strongest demand for buying online and collecting in-store, a trend yet to take off for Germans, who prefer their goods to be delivered.