Online retail surges in the North of England

Online retail surges in the North of EnglandWhen it comes to online retailing, the UK is outpacing the rest of Europe and the North of England is overtaking the rest of the country according to new research.

A new report by eBay's Public Policy Lab shows that Greater Manchester has a greater concentration of small online businesses than anywhere else in the UK. The report's authors say this bucks the popular perception that clusters of digital businesses only exist in London.

The researchers calculated "digital densities" based on the volume of small online retail businesses operating in a region and their sales, as a proportion of the local population.

The findings highlight the emergence of a "Northern powerhouse" of ecommerce firms, with Manchester leading the digital density rankings, followed by Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

The top ten UK regions with the highest concentration of small online retail businesses are: Greater Manchester; Lancashire; West Yorkshire; Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire; Essex; Cheshire; West Midlands; Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire; Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire; and Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Inner London, which includes Shoreditch and Tech City, is in 26th place.

The report, based on newly released eBay data independently analysed by Sidley Austin LLP, also shows that the UK is the most advanced market in Europe for global exports.

Just over half (52%) of small online retail businesses in the UK export to four or more continents, more than any other European country.

The number of small British online retailers exporting to 15 or more countries has grown by 33% since 2010. Now, 91% of all online small businesses on eBay in the UK export goods abroad – compared to 28% of traditional offline small businesses.

Sarah Calcott, director of operations at eBay UK, said: "Our research shows that technology is opening up tremendous opportunities for small businesses across the UK. At eBay we're working hard to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit of small online businesses, providing them with the tools and the flexibility to export millions of British goods abroad."

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