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Jonathan Reynolds

By Jonathan Reynolds

Tripping the light fantastic?

Some interesting data just published by the Department of Transport on internet-related purchasing and trips in the UK. This confirms that internet-based ordering has increased over the 6 years since the last National Transport Survey Omnibus, (not really a surprise!) but also contains some confirmatory evidence on the size of the UK domestic e-commerce market as well as challenging some of the rhetoric on e-commerce being a ‘greener’ way of consuming. The study reports that:

  • In 2008, 73 per cent of individuals said that their household had ordered goods by internet, phone or post for delivery, with 37 per cent receiving deliveries at least monthly. In the 2002 NTS, the respective figures were 64 per cent and 27 per cent.
  • The proportion of deliveries ordered via the internet has increased, from 26 per cent in the 2002 NTS to 73 per cent in the 2008 Omnibus.
  • Although there has been an increase in the proportion ordering food or drink for home delivery over the period, home deliveries only account for a small proportion of food shopping. In 2008, 4 per cent of those responsible for the main household food shop said they usually had the main food shop delivered (this ties in with an estimate from Tesco financial data which suggests that Tesco.com comprised around 4.3% of the company’s UK sales in 2007-08).
  • For almost a fifth (17 per cent) of home deliveries someone in the household visited an outlet prior to purchasing the item (15 per cent), made the trip to collect an item left at the post office/depot/outlet (3 per cent) or made a trip to return the item (<1 per cent). (This has an interesting implication for the notion that e-commerce is a wholly sustainable form of consumption. It is clear that for a proportion of shoppers, e-commerce only substitutes for part of the purchasing cycle – or may even cause additional physical trips to be generated.)
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