Online Business Statistics

2020 has been a year like none other, with some industry’s growth coming to a standstill, while others are seeing a 5-year boom in just a matter of months.

At GoSimpleTax, eCommerce businesses are our bread and butter. We work with thousands of online sellers who use our tax software to simplify their expenses, tax forms, and tax calculations.

To better understand how the eCommerce and online business industry has changed over the last year, we compiled some key facts, figures, and statistics about the state of the online business industry, including:

  • The value of the online retail industry
  • How the online retail and eCommerce industry is growing
  • The rise of eCommerce and online business websites
  • How COVID has impacted online businesses
  • How online consumer behaviours have changed
  • How BOPIS and other online services have grown

We collected data from statistical reports and industry reports, alongside our own research, to uncover some very interesting insights into online businesses and the eCommerce industry in the UK.

Here’s what we found:

Online Retail & eCommerce Growth Statistics

The UK is the third-largest eCommerce market for revenue per person on the globe, just behind the USA (#1) and China (#2).

In 2019, 19.4% of all retail sales in the UK were made online. In 2020, this number is estimated to have jumped to 26.2%.

Share of online retail sales UK

Online retail sales in the UK are estimated to reach just under £100 billion in 2020

Online retail has been slowly gaining ground over the past decade. With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, that growth has skyrocketed to almost £100 billion, up from 76 million in 2019.

Value of online sales in the UK


87% of people in the United Kingdom shopped online in 2020, compared to 82% in 2019.

online purchasing penetration


The weekly year-on-year growth rate of revenue for online-only retailers was at 19% the week that lockdown was first announced in the UK.

This number rose to 161% in mid-may 2020.

growth of online


Clothing and sporting goods were the most popular items purchased online in 2020, with 55% of online shoppers doing so. Food delivery services followed with 32% of online shoppers getting deliveries from restaurants, fast food chains and catering services.

most popular goods purchased online


This seems to still be a trend in June 2020, with more than 30% of all retail sales from textiles, clothing and footwear stores being made online, the highest of any industry outside of “non-retailing stores” such as Amazon and eBay, which had 77.7% of all sales made online.

Despite grocery stores remaining open as “essential stores”, online food stores have seen the biggest growth this year, with sales growing by over 108% in June 2020 compared to the same period last year.

We found that consumers prefer to do their food shopping online, thanks to the pandemic, with April 2020 seeing an 83% increase in internet food sales compared to the previous month.

retail internet food sales


Online Consumer Behaviour Statistics

The Coronavirus crisis and the proceeding lockdown has changed the way consumers shop, where they shop, and what they shop for.

44% of consumers say coronavirus spread has impacted their purchase decisions.

  • 47% of men and 41% of women consumers say the coronavirus has impacted purchase decisions.
  • 54% of millennials feel their purchase decisions have been impacted, while only 33% of Baby Boomers, 42% of Gen X and 49% of Gen Z say the same.

35% of consumers said the news about the coronavirus is impacting where and how they shop.

  • More men (38%) than women (33%) say the news impacts how they shop.
  • Younger generations are being impacted the most (37% of Gen X, 38% of Gen Z, and 39% of Millennials, versus only 26% of Baby Boomers).

30% of consumers say they are shopping less frequently in-store.

  • Slightly more women (30%) than men (29%) are shopping less frequently in-store.
  • More Millennials (39%) are shopping less frequently in-store (compared to 36% of Gen Z, 25% of Gen X, 22% of Baby Boomers).

21% of consumers say they are shopping more frequently online.

  • More men (24%) than women (18%) shop more online.
  • More Millennials (30%) are shopping more frequently online than other generations (24% of Gen Z, 20% of Gen X and just 8% of Baby Boomers).

More than 50% of all online purchases by the 16-24 age group have a total value of between £100-£499

  • Online purchases with a value of £100-£499 are the most common across all age groups.
  • Online purchases with a value of £100-£499 make up about 43% and 40% of all online purchases made by women and men, respectively.

More consumers are using services by online and multichannel retailers to get products delivered without going in-store:

Service% of Men% of Women
BOPIS (Buy Online Purchase In Store)31%28%
Subscription services18%16%
Curbside pickup22%16%
ServiceBaby BoomersGen X
Gen Z
BOPIS (Buy Online Purchase In Store)20%28%47%22%
Subscription services8%19%19%23%
Curbside pickup13%13%22%30%

Consumers have more patience for delivery times due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Before COVID-19, consumers expected an average delivery time of 4 days for standard delivery, now, the average expected delivery time is 6.7 days.

Over 67% of UK consumers said that they experienced shipping delays since the beginning of the pandemic.

The average delay for shipping in the UK right now is 1.9 days, close to the European shipping delay average of two days.

In 2020, less retailers are offering free returns by post.

  • Just 38% of online retailers offer free returns by post in 2020, compared to 52% in 2019.
  • 19% of online retailers offer free returns by collection in 2020 (where the items are picked up from the customer’s home), which is just slightly more than in 2019, at 18%.

Retailers offering free returns

Since the COVID-19 crisis, Consumers are more likely to “shop local”.

UK shoppers have reported a major shift towards supporting local retailers since the beginning of the crisis.

While 45% of UK consumers happily ordered from international companies before the outbreak, that number has dipped to only 32%, which is the second-lowest cross-border shopping rate in Europe, after Germany with 37%.

Consumers expect help at a moment’s notice:

75% of customers expect to receive online help resolving their problems within 5 minutes, whether through a customer service number, a chat service, or call back.

eCommerce/Online Business Websites Statistics

As eCommerce companies and online sellers increase, so do the number of eCommerce websites. As more people are spending their time online and on their phones, retailers should be expanding into the digital space, if they’re not already, to take advantage of industry growth.

Visits to online retail websites rose by 10.9% year-on-year in January 2020, against a decline of 1.9% in the previous year.

All but one category saw increasing visits to their websites in January, year-on-year, with multi-category retailers (Department Stores) reporting the strongest rise (+17.7%), followed by DIY & Gardening (+9.3%) and Electricals (+7.7%).

Online retailers and marketplaces such as Amazon (32.3%), Etsy (18.6%), and Currys (18.2%) saw the largest YoY growth in January.

The biggest losers of YoY online retail growth in January were eBay (-7.8%), Next (-5.3%), Argos (-2.4%) and John Lewis (-0.4%).

WebsitesNumber of visitsYoY Growth,130,960,91532.3%,884,143-7.8%,211,903-2.4%

Small businesses and startups online

More than 36% of small and new businesses don’t have a website in 2020.

eCommerce websites are more important than ever, and online business owners know it. For those that don’t have one, 26% cited cost as the main reason why they’re not online.

38% of small businesses who do have a website used a DIY website builder.

  • 51% of small businesses with websites used in-house staff to maintain their site.
  • 40% left the maintenance to a freelancer or consultant, and 31% outsourced to a web

Shopify makes up 30% of all eCommerce sites

Shopify seems to be the most popular eCommerce platform with 30% of all eCommerce sites making use of it. This is followed closely by WooCommerce, with 20% of eCommerce sites.

As far as content management is concerned on eCommerce websites, 33% use WordPress, followed by Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Blogger, and Shopify.


Sources provided upon request.

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