Internet Access – Individuals and Households 2014 presents the latest statistics on the public’s use of the Internet. The data available range from the percentage of the adult population who use the Internet daily, to the types of purchases made online, to awareness of Internet storage services. Look here if you want to be up-to-date on UK habits online.
Monitoring e-commerce – 2014 contains, amongst other things, a ‘dashboard’ and interactive graphic where users can find a proposed set of indicators measuring e-commerce in the UK. These indicators are divided into key performance indicators, business engagement indicators, and household engagement indicators. Look here if you want a quick and easy overview of what the digital economy looks like.
Finally, National Accounts Articles - E-commerce: Measuring, Monitoring and Gross Domestic Product (724.2 Kb Pdf) details the sources, definitions, and results of ONS measures of e-commerce, with both a perspective on policy and on the measurement of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This includes, definitions of ‘electronic data exchange’, analysis of Eurostat data on Internet access and purchasing, and an explanation of how e-commerce is important to the measurement of GDP. Look here if you are interested in how ONS measures e-commerce, and why it’s important. (724.2 Kb Pdf)
The ONS has also launched a public consultation on the future publication of statistics to measure the digital economy to ensure these statistics continue to meet user needs. The publication will close on 30 October. The full consultation document can be found on the ONS Consultation pages.
To showcase the variety of statistics released the short story below pulls together information for all three releases as an example of how these data can be used to examine the digital economy.
The Digital Economy
AROUND THREE QUARTERS OF ADULTS HAD USED THE INTERNET TO BUY GOODS AND SERVICES ONLINE IN 2014.
More people in Great Britain are online than ever before – 37.6 million adults1 (76%) use the internet on a daily basis in 2014. One reason people have been drawn to the internet is its use as a market place, which has changed the habits of both consumers and firms. Consumers are increasingly turning to the internet to shop; the proportion of adults using the internet to make a purchase has increased from 53% in 2008 to 74% in 2014. This increase is likely to reflect changes in technology, consumer trends, and general economic conditions, and highlight the shifting nature of the digital economy. Clothes and sports goods are one of the most popular purchases online, as 49% of adults made an online purchase in 2014 (Figure 1). Household goods such as furniture and toys and other travel arrangements were also popular items bought online in 2014.
Figure 1: Purchases made over the Internet in the last 12 months, % of 16+ population, Great Britain, 2014
- Base: Adults (aged 16+) in Great Britain.
E-COMMERCE SALES ACCOUNTED FOR 18% OF NON-FINANCIAL BUSINESS TURNOVER2 IN 2012
As well as consumer habits, business sales offer insights into the digital economy. E-commerce includes any form of electronic business transaction, such as website sales and electronic data interchange. Its importance to the UK economy is highlighted by the value of its sales, which reached £492billion in 20123. This was a 47% increase on its 2008 value of £335 billion, and equal to 18% of total non-financial business turnover in 20124.
In contrast to GDP, which fell by 5.2% in 2009, e-commerce sales continued to grow during the downturn (11.8%). The pace of growth then increased in 2011, but the drivers behind this changed. Figure 2 looks at the contribution from various industries to growth in e-commerce sales, which will depend on both the growth in an industry and the size of that industry. In 2009, the value of e-commerce sales increased by 11.8%, driven largely by a contribution of 11.1 percentage points from wholesale. By 2011, this contribution fell to 3.5 percentage points, while the contribution from manufacturing increased to 7.2 percentage points (having been negative in 2009).
Figure 2: Contributions to growth in the value of e-commerce sales by industry, percentage points, 2009 to 2012
- Other’ includes retail, transport and storage, accommodation and food services, construction, information and communication, utilities, and other services.
The growth of e-commerce sales slowed to 1.6% in 2012. Wholesale and manufacturing, which had made large positive contributions to growth in the two previous years, contributed -2.1 and 0.3 percentage points respectively.
Despite these changing contributions to growth, the overall composition of e-commerce sales in 2012 remained largely unchanged compared with 2008. Wholesale comprised the greatest portion of e-commerce sales in 2012 (at 35%), followed closely by manufacturing (at 32%). This ,in part, reflects the size of these industries as a proportion of non-financial business economy turnover, but also reflects the importance of e-commerce to these industries: around a third of turnover in Manufacturing, for example, was accounted for by E-commerce in 2012.
For an overview of our information on businesses and e-commerce, see the business engagement indicators on the [E-commerce dashboard], or for more analysis on E-commerce, see National Accounts Articles - E-commerce: Measuring, Monitoring and Gross Domestic Product. (724.2 Kb Pdf)
UK AND DANISH CONSUMERS MOST LIKELY IN THE EU TO BUY ONLINE, UK BUSINESSES EIGHTH MOST LIKELY TO SELL ONLINE.
The relationship between consumers and businesses interaction with the digital economy is captured, in part, by Eurostat data on the percentage of enterprises selling online5, and the percentage of adults6 who made an internet purchase in the last year, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: The percentage of enterprises selling online, and the percentage of adults (aged 16-74) who made an internet purchase in the last year, EU countries, 2012
- Defined as businesses where at least 1% of turnover results from sales online.
- EU refers to the ‘EU28’, including Croatia (which joined in 2013). The EU average presented, however, does not include Croatia and so refers to the ‘EU27’.
The percentage of individuals who have made an internet purchase varies a lot between countries, from 8% in Romania to 77% in Denmark and the UK. In comparison, there is less variation in the percentage of enterprises selling online, from 5% in Bulgaria and Italy, to 27% in Denmark. There is a positive relationship between these two measures, but it is not perfect. Taking the UK as an example, although its consumers (along with Danish consumers), are most likely to have bought online in the past year, UK businesses are only the 8th most likely to have sold online.
This may reflect several factors, such as the extent to which countries have businesses that ‘specialise’ in online sales, for example, a relatively small amount of businesses could satisfy the large proportion of the population who buy online. Another factor which may affect the relationship between the proportion of businesses that sell and consumers who purchase online is the amount different countries import and export goods online. The contribution of trade to GDP is measured by exports less imports, meaning that measuring the portion of e-commerce that is imported presents a unique challenge in measuring online trade’s contribution to GDP. ONS have an on-going programme of work to improve coverage of e-services exported and imported by households.
For more information on how the statistics on UK e-commerce compare to other EU economies, see
National Accounts Articles - E-commerce: Measuring, Monitoring and Gross Domestic Product (724.2 Kb Pdf)
Aged 16 years and over.
This and all references to the non-financial business economy in this short story excludes businesses with under 10 employees as well as SIC07 sections A, B, K, O P, Q, R, S (other than division 95.1) and division 75.
Data for e-commerce come from the e-commerce survey, which surveys around 8,000 businesses annually. Estimates relate to businesses with 10 or more employees across a range of industries (see footnote 2 for details of the industries excluded).
Data on total turnover for the non-financial business economy are taken from Annual Business Survey, 2012 Provisional Results.
Defined as businesses where at least 1% of turnover results from sales online.