French online sales up 11% in Q3, peak season purchases to surpass €20 billion
Online retail sales are continuing to grow strongly in France, with double-digit growth in the latest quarter and a 9% rise expected for the forthcoming peak holiday season.
E-commerce sales in France totalled €24.6 billion in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 10.8% on the same period last year, and the forthcoming peak season, beginning with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is expected to surpass €20 billion in purchases, compared to €18.3 million last year, according to trade association, Fevad.
The number of online transactions reached 426 million, up 14.2% on Q3 2018, driven by an increasing number of online shoppers and e-commerce websites which offset the decrease in the average shopping 'basket' value.
The decline is less significant than in previous quarters (-3%) - likely due to the buoyancy of holiday and tourism-related purchases, Fevad noted. The average basket totalled €58 versus €59.50 in Q3 2018.
The purchase frequency increased by 8% with each shopper on average making 12.5 purchases for a total value of €724, an increase of €36 on a year ago. 40.5 million shoppers ordered products online in Q3, which is 1,658 000 more than a year ago, according to market researchers Mediametrie.
Fevad's managing director, Marc Lolivier, commented: “Today, there almost 1.7 million more online shoppers than a year ago and our findings show that the increase in purchasing frequency continues. 59% of online shoppers make a purchase at least once month.”
Since the start of the year, the number of e-commerce websites has risen to 191,700, an increase of 16% on 2018 levels. The figure includes ‘bricks and mortar’ stores which have opened websites to complement their activity.
According to the iCE 100 index, which measures the top 100 e-commerce websites in France, the leading B2C websites increased their combined sales by 5.8% during the third quarter of 2019, to a backdrop of a slight improvement in household consumption (+1.3%) according to Banque de France).
The B2B segment within the iCE 100 index continued to record double-digit growth with sales increasing 17.7%. Fevad noted that the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) has underlined the positive business investment climate driven by the investment of local public authorities ahead of municipal elections next year.
Sales on marketplaces increased 11% on Q3 2018 and now represent 32% of the global e-commerce revenues of the websites hosting them and which are included in the iPM (marketplace index) panel.
Mobile commerce also remains a dynamic growth factor in France. Sales via smartphones and tablets and apps from the websites in the iCM panel (mobile commerce index) rose 18% in Q3 and now account for 40% of their total turnover, an increase of five percentage points on a year ago. M-commerce continues to grow three times more quickly than e-commerce as a whole.
Jamila Yahia-Messaoud, director of the Consumer Insights department at Mediametrie, commented: “The mobile (device) has become indispensable and a real purchasing vehicle on the Internet. In fact, online shoppers declare that the smartphone spurs them to buy even more often on the Internet.”
Looking ahead, Fevad estimates that Christmas sales and those from promotion at events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday could exceed €20 million (almost 20% of annual sales) compared to €18.3 billion last year driven by an increase in the number of online shoppers and the purchasing frequency.
Shoppers are projected to make an average of more than 15 purchases in the fourth quarter of the year versus 13.6 purchases in the same period of 2018.
This year, the four-day revenues corresponding to Black Friday and Cyber Monday could reach €1.7 billion (product sales) compared to €1.3 billion last year. Black Friday 2018 saw a doubling of the average sales traffic per day and a tripling of the average turnover of websites included in the Fevad panel.
According to a separate survey by Fevad and Mediametrie, in 2018 more than two-thirds of online shoppers made all or part of their Christmas purchases online and this could increase to almost 80% this year. 31% of online shoppers planning to purchase their Christmas gifts online will do this via a mobile compared to 22% last year.
“There are more and more shoppers purchasing by mobile - 43% having used their phone to do so over the past 12 months. For Christmas, close to one in two will consult their mobile in preparing their purchases, an increase of five points versus 2018,” said Fevad's Lolivier.
Black Friday (November 29) and Cyber Monday (December 2) have become prime occasions to purchase Christmas gifts online. In 2018, 71% of online shoppers purchased all or some of their Christmas gifts during these promotional events compared to 69% in 2017. This year the figure is expected to rise to 87%.
While clothing, shoes and accessories continue to be the main products purchased during Black Friday and Cyber Monday 50% of the total), high-tech goods and household electrical appliances have joined the top three categories, accounting for 32% of purchases along with games and toys.
Internet users plan to spend an average of €150 online compared to €179 in stores during these sales events.
Beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday and whether in stores or on the Internet, online shoppers are willing to spend an average of €255 on Christmas shopping this year, confirming the downward trend of the past couple of years.
However, 70% of those surveyed declared that they will allocate the same budget as in 2018. While the average budget for online (Christmas) purchases is €171 this year, 7% of online shoppers are ready to spend more than in 2018, namely more than €190.
The French e-commerce market generated a turnover of €74 billion in the first nine months of the year and is expected to exceed €100 billion for 2019 as a whole.