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Sep 8, 2021
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​UK online shoppers snubbing Europe post-Brexit on border issues - survey

Published
Sep 8, 2021

Concerns over EU customs and border delays have led to a dramatic slump in UK online shoppers buying from international websites, a new survey has revealed.


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Just under a third (31%) of UK consumers shopped internationally in 2021, down a hefty 14% in just a year, research among more than 7,800 consumers (1,003 based in the UK) showed.

And EU issues were so bad that UK consumers said they’d rather shop as far as China (42%) and the US (30%) than closer neighbours Germany (10%), Italy (7%), or Spain (6%), the annual Sendcloud E-commerce Delivery Compass claims.

This is in stark contrast to EU shoppers, as 56% of European consumers said they like to shop internationally — just 5% less than in 2020.

However, the UK remains one of the top five countries from which EU consumers buy online, with 16% of consumers having ordered from the UK in the past 12 months.

UK consumers increasingly reported cross-border shipping concerns over the past 12 months, with expensive delivery costs (62%), potential payment of customs charges (49%), and poor returns policies (47%) all increasing in 2021 as the main reasons to not shop abroad.

In 2020, 51% of UK consumers cited delivery costs as a significant turn-off for international shopping and 38% for both customs charges and returns issues, highlighting the increased barriers created by Brexit.

The report specifically found a lack of spending in Europe as EU custom surcharges, Brexit-related delivery delays and Covid-related shortages of products continue to put consumers off.

Brexit has resulted in a huge boundary to ship across borders, with reports in July showing imports from the EU had remained flat while global imports rose by 19%.

Sendcloud also noted in April that new shipping requirements and additional VAT charges had halved the number of shipments from the EU to the UK in the first three months of 2021.

“Customers want a seamless transaction and delivery process, but the survey shows there are still plenty of barriers stopping UK consumers from shopping abroad,” said Rob van den Heuvel, co-founder and CEO at Sendcloud.

“It’s important for both UK and EU retailers to streamline their international shipping or risk leaving money on the table. Delivery has become a vital aspect for retailers as consumers have come to expect everything from free returns to same-day delivery as standard". 

He added: “Being able to partner with international and local shipping providers that can get a parcel from A to B in the quickest and most convenient way possible will be key to realising a successful post-Brexit environment”.

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