European Analysis: E-Commerce is Back to Its Pre-Pandemic Course

  • Published 4 Oct 2022
  • Language: English

The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in Q1 of 2020, helped e-commerce achieve unprecedented growth. As lockdowns were put in place in many European countries, customers turned to e-commerce and deliveries since they could no longer physically visit brick-and-mortar stores. The latest Eurostat data, however, shows that e-commerce has already returned to its pre-COVID state. While in 2020, it grew by more than 25%, in 2021, it grew by only 13.9%, which is at the level of the average growth of the past 6 years. Looking at 2022 and the numbers recorded in individual months, we can see a decrease in sales in the e-commerce sector and a return of customers to brick-and-mortar stores. In January 2022, sales decreased by 3% year-on-year since March, which is a yearly decrease of approximately 10% each month.

In this report, we will take a closer look at e-commerce in 2021 in 27 countries of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Switzerland. We will look at countries with the highest number of e-commerce enterprises and TOP e-commerce companies, their legal form and sales.

The listed data on companies and markets are part of the HitHorizons database. HitHorizons aggregates data on 80M+ businesses from 60 countries, including the whole of Europe. Data contains basic information about individual companies such as name, registered address, identification number, contact details, industry, SIC Code, sales performance, and the number of employees. If you need to analyze the UK market, HitHorizons Screener and HitHorizons API will help you.

The year-on-year decline in e-commerce sales in EU27 - individual months of 2022

The E-commerce market in EU27 and UK, Norway, and Switzerland

In total, 636,688 entities operate in e-commerce in the EU27, Switzerland, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Of these, 27,468 are branches of foreign entities, and 277,887 are proprietorships. Excluding branches, the highest number of e-commerce companies operate in the United Kingdom (116,299), France (91,914) and the Netherlands (90,487). The TOP 10 countries with the highest number of companies operating in e-commerce have 86.6% of all e-commerce entities operating in 30 countries reviewed for this report.

Number of e-commerce companies and proprietorships in TOP 10 countries

Of the TOP 10 countries with the highest number of e-commerce companies, almost half have more proprietorships than legal persons. In France, proprietorships make up more than 74% of the total number of entities doing business in e-commerce. In the Netherlands, proprietorships have a 75% share; in Poland, more than 64%; in Italy, more than 63%. The United Kingdom is an exception - less than 2% of e-commerce businesses are proprietorships. (Note do footnote: We do not have a complete database of proprietorships in the United Kingdom)

Number of e-commerce companies and proprietorships in countries

Country Number of Companies Proprietorships
UNITED KINGDOM 114,397 1,902
SPAIN 36,314 4,920
POLAND 26,314 47,123
ROMANIA 24,177 2,007
FRANCE 23,512 68,402
NETHERLANDS 22,248 68,239
ITALY 14,579 24,864
GERMANY 9,362 14,548
SWEDEN 9,001 8,085
BULGARIA 7,491 192
BELGIUM 6,389 9,006
ESTONIA 6,001 -
HUNGARY 5,779 8,902
DENMARK 4,413 5,577
NORWAY 4,154 4,952
Country Number of Companies Proprietorships
PORTUGAL 2,357 176
SWITZERLAND 2,263 2,635
FINLAND 2,101 2,054
LATVIA 1,779 91
IRELAND 1,743 4
SLOVENIA 1,287 1,419
CROATIA 1,182 506
LITHUANIA 1,008 59
SLOVAKIA 669 110
AUSTRIA 524 2,468
GREECE 406 407
LUXEMBOURG 390 55
CZECH REPUBLIC 251 172
CYPRUS 230 10
MALTA 12 2

Regarding median annual sales, Switzerland is leading with EUR 198,470 (half of the companies have sales above the median and half below). Poland is second with EUR 132,662. Belgium is third with median annual sales of EUR 112,913.

Median annual sales of the TOP 10 countries (EUR)

Country Median Sales (EUR)
SWITZERLAND € 198,470
POLAND € 132,662
BELGIUM € 112,913
SWEDEN € 111,861
CROATIA € 109,407
ESTONIA € 106,122
SLOVENIA € 106,122
NETHERLANDS € 104,428
CYPRUS € 103,032
LUXEMBOURG € 103,032
MALTA € 103,032
NORWAY € 100,014
GERMANY € 100,000
GREECE € 99,742
AUSTRIA € 99,121
Country Median Sales (EUR)
LITHUANIA € 98,689
ITALY € 95,000
FINLAND € 71,000
FRANCE € 67,285
ROMANIA € 59,771
DENMARK € 59,163
IRELAND € 52,257
UNITED € 45,782
SPAIN € 45,725
LATVIA € 40,344
HUNGARY € 35,480
SLOVAKIA € 34,190
PORTUGAL € 24,740
CZECH REPUBLIC € 24,433
BULGARIA € 17,382

When we looked for companies with annual sales of more than EUR 1M, we identified 8,665 in all the countries reviewed for this report combined. The United Kingdom is leading with 2,074 e-commerce businesses with annual sales of more than EUR 1M. Italy is second (1,147), and France is third (973).

Number of companies with annual sales of EUR 1M+ in individual countries

Country Number of companies
UNITED KINGDOM 2,074
ITALY 1,147
FRANCE 973
GERMANY 576
POLAND 568
SWEDEN 467
NORWAY 384
NETHERLANDS 354
ROMANIA 301
SPAIN 278
DENMARK 277
HUNGARY 185
FINLAND 122
GREECE 102
SWITZERLAND 102
Country Number of companies
BELGIUM 93
ESTONIA 93
SLOVENIA 93
BULGARIA 78
PORTUGAL 73
LITHUANIA 69
SLOVAKIA 56
LATVIA 53
AUSTRIA 44
CZECH REPUBLIC 37
CROATIA 30
IRELAND 15
LUXEMBOURG 12
CYPRUS 6
MALTA 3

There are only 18 companies with annual sales of more than EUR 1B. Most of them are registered in Germany (7), the United Kingdom (5), and France (3). The largest company is AMAZON EU S.A RL, based in Luxembourg, with annual sales of more than EUR 51B.

Companies with sales of more than a billion euros per year

Company Country Sales (EUR)
AMAZON EU S.A RL LUXEMBOURG € 51.32B
Sony Europe B.V. NETHERLANDS € 34.06B
Otto (GmbH & Co KG) GERMANY € 15.64B
Zalando SE GERMANY € 10.37B
digitec AG SWITZERLAND € 9.225B
ARGOS LIMITED UNITED KINGDOM € 5.438B
ASOS.COM LIMITED UNITED KINGDOM € 4.546B
Primondo GmbH GERMANY € 4.300B
NEXT RETAIL LIMITED UNITED KINGDOM € 3.972B
Company Country Sales (EUR)
CDISCOUNT FRANCE € 2.339B
SHOP DIRECT HOME SHOPPING LIMITED UNITED KINGDOM € 2.145B
MMS E-Commerce GmbH GERMANY € 2.063B
VENTE PRIVEE.COM FRANCE € 1.781B
bonprix Handelsges. mbH GERMANY € 1.570B
AO RETAIL LIMITED UNITED KINGDOM € 1.567B
UNICOMM SRL ITALY € 1.452B
neckermann.de GmbH GERMANY € 1.292B
eBay GmbH GERMANY € 1.274B

TOP e-commerce businesses in the largest economies

United Kingdom

There are 116,299 e-commerce companies in the United Kingdom, of which 1,902 are proprietorships. The median annual sales of these companies are EUR 45,782. Among the largest is ARGOS LIMITED, with annual sales of EUR 5.4B. ASOS.COM LIMITED is second with

TOP e-commerce companies in the United Kingdom

Company Sales (EUR)
ARGOS LIMITE € 5.438B
ASOS.COM LIMITED € 4.546B
NEXT RETAIL LIMITED € 3.972B
SHOP DIRECT HOME SHOPPING LIMITED € 2.145B
AO RETAIL LIMITED € 1.567B
BOOHOO.COM UK LIMITED € 938.7M
PRETTYLITTLETHING.COM LIMITED € 825.7M
J.D. WILLIAMS & COMPANY LIMITED € 820.3M
STUDIO RETAIL LIMITED € 672.7M
QVC UK € 588.1M

Germany

There are 23,910 e-commerce companies in Germany, of which 14,548 are proprietorships. The median annual sales of these companies are EUR 100,000. The top three companies are Otto (GmbH & Co KG) with annual sales of more than EUR 15.6B, Zalando SE (EUR 10.3B) and Primondo GmbH (EUR 4.3B).

TOP e-commerce companies in Germany

Company Sales (EUR)
Otto (GmbH & Co KG) € 15.64B
Zalando SE € 10.35B
Primondo GmbH € 4.300B
MMS E-Commerce GmbH € 2.063B
bonprix Handelsges. mbH € 1.570B
neckermann.de GmbH € 1.292B
eBay GmbH € 1.274B
Baur Versand (GmbH & Co. KG) € 993.0M
Schieder Möbel Holding GmbH € 904.8M
QVC Handel S.à r.l. & Co. KG € 827.9M

France

In France, more than 91,000 companies are operating in e-commerce, and more than 68,000 are proprietorships. These companies' median sales are EUR 67,285. CDISCOUNT is number one with annual sales of EUR 23.3B, VENTE PRIVEE.COM is second with EUR 17.8B, and FNAC DIRECT is third with EUR 9.7B.

TOP e-commerce companies in France

Company Sales (EUR)
CDISCOUNT € 2.339B
VENTE PRIVEE.COM € 1.781B
FNAC DIRECT € 970.4M
LA REDOUTE € 846.0M
GROUPE LDLC € 724.1M
SHOWROOMPRIVE.COM € 628.3M
CARREFOUR DRIVE € 385.6M
BONPRIX € 272.8M
DAMART € 270.9M
VERTBAUDET € 258.1M

Italy

A total of 39,443 companies operate in Italian e-commerce, of which 24,864 are proprietorships. The median annual sales of these companies are EUR 71,000. The largest companies are UNICOMM SRL, with annual sales of EUR 1.45B. YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP SPA is second (EUR 944M), and POLTRONESOFA' HOLDING SRL is third (EUR 512M).

TOP e-commerce companies in Italy

Company Sales (EUR)
UNICOMM SRL € 1.452B
YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP SPA € 944.2M
POLTRONESOFA' HOLDING SRL € 512.5M
BUSCAINI ANGELO SRL € 285.9M
G COMMERCE EUROPE SPA € 262.1M
SME SPA € 240.9M
BONPRIX SRL € 233.3M
DML SPA € 214.1M
LAFELTRINELLI INTERNET BOOKSHOP SRL € 153.0M
QVC ITALIA SRL € 139.1M

Spain

In Spain, 41,234 companies operate in e-commerce. Of these, 4,920 are proprietorships. Median e-commerce annual sales are EUR 45,725. The largest company is WIVAI SELECTPLACE S.A., with annual sales of EUR 201.3M. PROMOFARMA ECOM SL. is second (EUR 74.7M), and BECHTLE DIRECT SLU is third (EUR 71.6M).

TOP e-commerce companies in Spain

Company Sales (EUR)
WIVAI SELECTPLACE S.A. € 201.3M
PROMOFARMA ECOM SL. € 74.73M
BECHTLE DIRECT SLU € 71.65M
BEAUTY LUXE DISTRIBUTIONS SL. € 67.66M
FREEPIK COMPANY SL. € 55.54M
PRAT INTERNATIONAL BRANDS SOCIEDAD LIMITADA. € 36.00M
SPANISH AOSOM SL. € 35.58M
KALAMAZOO PRODUCTOS DE OFICINA SOCIEDAD LIMITADA. € 32.44M
TENDEUS SPAIN SL € 31.09M
ROOFOODS SPAIN SL. € 31.06M

Summary

In terms of the total number of e-commerce businesses, the United Kingdom (116,299) is the strongest country out of the 30 countries reviewed for this report. The highest number of e-commerce proprietorships is in France (68,402) and the Netherlands (68,239). In terms of median annual sales, companies in Switzerland earn the most (198,470). The highest number of companies with annual sales of EUR 1M+ is in the United Kingdom (2,074). Germany has the highest number of companies with annual sales of EUR 1B+ (7).

If you want to do a more detailed analysis of European companies or countries, you can use HitHorizons Screener. HitHorizons Screener allows users to pick from various filtering and sorting options and find relevant entities within the whole HitHorizons database. The resulting datasets can be exported in CSV for further processing in any software.

HitHorizons API allows to enrich any analytical tools, CRMs, ERPs, or other software with data available in the HitHorizons database.

HitHorizons aggregates data on 80M+ businesses from 60 countries, including the whole of Europe. Data contains basic information about individual companies such as name, registered address, identification number, contact information, industry, SIC Code, sales performance, and number of employees.

If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to contact us

Martin Lindak - Analyst
Martin Lindak Analyst insights@hithorizons.com

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