Great potential of cross-border shopping going unfulfilled, says EU report
European Commission - IP/08/1447 02/10/2008
Brussels, 2 October 2008
EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva today announced the results of two new EU wide surveys on retailers' and consumers' attitudes towards cross-border shopping. The figures show that even though e-commerce is taking off at national level, cross-border e-commerce is failing to keep pace. The share of EU consumers that have shopped across border has remained stable since 2006 (at around a quarter of the population). Even though consumers are increasingly confident about shopping cross-border, fewer retailers seem to be offering them this opportunity. Currently, 75% of retailers sell only to consumers domestically, but the reports show that if rules were harmonised almost half of these (34% more) would be interested in selling cross-border.
“Our goal is that the consumers should be able to benefit from buying the best quality at the cheapest price – no matter where in the internal market these goods or services might be on sale. And it should be easy for the retailers to sell their products or services wherever the demand is within the internal market," said European Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva. "The potential for further internal market integration in this field is considerable – so it is clearly a priority to ensure that legal and practical barriers do not prevent consumers and businesses from trading cross-border – whilst ensuring a consistently high level of consumer protection."
Cross-border shoppers generally consist of younger, well-educated people in higher professional positions with internet access at home. Cross-border shopping still does not sufficiently engage the larger "middle" group of consumers. The case seems to be the same for companies, where larger companies are warming to the idea, but there is still a larger middle group that have not fully taken on board the business potential that cross-border sales offer.
The reports published today are two Eurobarometer surveys on Businesses and Consumer attitudes to cross border trade. Data gathering was carried out in February – March 2008 amongst more than 26.000 consumers and 7.200 businesses in the 27 EU-countries and Norway.
The results of these two surveys are particularly relevant in the light of the upcoming EU Directive on Consumer Rights, which will simplify and streamline the current patchwork of different consumer laws into a single simple set of rules which make it easier for consumers and business to buy and sell across Europe.
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