Report Says 34% of UK Shoppers Regularly Buy From Abroad

UK Shoppers are increasingly turning to overseas retailers for their fashion fix according to research by delivery management company Whistl.

Over a third (34%) of savvy shoppers are regularly shunning UK retailers and purchase from abroad with 15% making an online purchase from an overseas retailer at least once a week.

Source: Whistl

The driving force behind Brits global spending is price, with 55% stating it is the most important factor when shopping online.

However, there are still issues that dissuade Brits from purchasing from overseas retailers. Extended delivery times (28%), lack of brand recognition (21%), import costs (20%) and paying in foreign currency (11%) are all a factor.

Men are more likely to shop with an overseas retailer, with 79% having made a purchase in the last year as opposed to only 66% of women.

For men, purchasing from an overseas retailer is the gateway to securing a product earlier than the UK release. This is the reason they are more than twice as likely to shop with an overseas retailer.

In contrast however, almost a third of women (31%) are dissuaded from purchasing from overseas retailers due to extended delivery times.

Millennials Lead The Trend to Shop Overseas

The biggest market for overseas retailers in the UK is the 25-34 age bracket, with over half shopping with an overseas retailer at least once a month and one in 10 doing so every day.

Source: Whistl

America and China have the monopoly on UK shoppers with the top five international sites for British consumers being: China-based AliExpress and dealextreme and USA-based borderfree, Macy’s and Newegg.

British women are more likely to shop from China than any other overseas country, with 47% reporting they have purchased an item from the country in the last 12 months.

British men are more likely to shop from American retailers than any other overseas country, with 47% reporting they have purchased an item from the country in the last 12 months.

UK Businesses Cross-Border Sales

UK businesses are also cashing in on international opportunities. 81% of British online business owners are offering overseas delivery options. 37% currently offer European delivery options and 44% worldwide delivery options.

But, many businesses are missing out on global sales opportunities with almost 20% of British online businesses limiting themselves to UK only delivery.


The report looks at current trends and does not address BREXIT, the exit of the UK from the European Union.

While purchases from the U.S. or China are not going to be affected by BREXIT, buying and selling to EU countries may be a very different situation.

With 37% of UK businesses only offering European delivery options and 20% not offering any cross-border shipping options, there are well over 50% of UK eCommerce businesses that do not sell globally, including to important English-speaking markets such as the U.S., Canada, Australia, and even emerging markets such as India.

Clearly, this is a lost opportunity for many UK-based sellers and with the uncertainty of BREXIT an area more UK businesses should explore.

READ MORE: PayPal Makes Case for Cross-Border Trade

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