It should be interesting, since UK online sales are going to double by 2010 and the more sales, the more payments. The UK has had a perfect storm of high card penetration and high broadband penetration. As a these articles point out, British shoppers do seem to be making more use of the internet than consumers on the continent. Last year UK buyers spent an average of £875 on the web. That compares with £734 for second-placed Denmark, £405 for sixth-placed Germany and £254 by the average French shopper, according to the European Interactive Advertising Agency.
I have to say, though, that I’m not sure if broadband and credit cards are the sole explanation. I agree with Peter Cochrane, who told me a few years ago that he thought that UK online retailing would grow faster than US online retailing, not because UK online retailing is fantastic but because UK offline retailing is rubbish. In the US, if you want to buy a widget then you stop off at the widget shop, park right outside, nip in and get your widget from someone who wants to sell you one and then go. In the UK, if you want to buy a widget then you’ve got to find somewhere to park (and get charged a fortune for it), walk miles to the widget shop and then be ignored by the bored teenage assistant who, in any case, knows nothing about widgets. As the old saying about shopping in the US vs. shopping in the UK goes, I’d rather to be told to have a nice day by someone who doesn’t mean it than to f— off by someone who does.
Addendum.. By coincidence, the headline in this morning’s Metro was about internet retailing, but from a different angle: internet retailed is killing the high street. It has a couple of useful figures for context: total internet sales in the UK last year were £8.2 billion, total high street sales fell (for the first time in 20 years) down to £122.3 billion.