In Q1 2021, Dutch consumers spent 63 percent more in foreign EU webshops compared to the same quarter last year. Spending stood at nearly 800 million euros, versus around half a billion euros one year previously. Never before has quarterly spending increased so much year-on-year since the implementation of the present measuring method in 2014. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of an ongoing survey.

Since 2014, spending by Dutch consumers in foreign EU webshops has been higher in each quarter compared to the same period one year previously. In Q1 2014, Dutch consumers still spent around 150 million euros. This increased fivefold to 778 million euros in Q1 2021, slightly higher than the amount spent in the final quarter of 2020. In recent years prior to this, spending in the first quarter was always lower than in the previous quarter. Especially since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis in March 2020, spending in EU webshops has risen sharply, probably as a result of the COVID-19 measures. For example, as of 15 December many non-food shops closed their doors and shops were only allowed to have orders collected.

This survey concerns online purchases by Dutch consumers from companies located outside the Netherlands and within the EU. Figures are exclusive of VAT and have been calculated on the basis of a method developed by CBS as part of its research into the internet economy. As this research method is still under development, the figures are provisional.

Domestic webshops realised 85 percent turnover growth

Dutch online retailers also achieved record turnover growth in Q1 2021, with a year-on-year increase of over 85 percent. This growth is substantial, also compared to other quarters since the start of the coronavirus crisis. At more than 55 percent, the strongest increase in 2020 occurred in the second quarter. Turnover of Dutch internet retailers includes sales to both Dutch and foreign consumers.

The strong growth in Q1 2021 is mainly attributable to multichannel retailers, who sell both online and in traditional outlets. These companies saw their online turnover more than double compared to the same period last year. Turnover realised by webshops with only online sales rose by nearly 59 percent. The number of newly established webshops increased by more than 30 percent relative to Q1 2020. Compared to the beginning of 2019, this number even more than doubled.

Turnover share of European webshops limited

Although purchases from EU webshops by Dutch consumers have increased considerably over the years, the effect on consumer spending is limited as they only account for a relatively small part. In 2019, these purchases contributed less than 2 percent to total domestic retail turnover. In Q1 2021, total Dutch retail turnover (outlet, internet and market sales) was over 1 percent lower than in Q1 2020.

The distinction between domestic and foreign webshops tends to be blurry for Dutch consumers. Content on e-commerce websites is often available in multiple languages and foreign online stores may offer a Dutch language version.

Sources