UK sees boom in online entrepreneurs

31 January 2008 / by Verity G
The number of people earning a living off eBay has increased to 180,000, sounding the alarm bells ringing for many of the UK's high street retailers.

Registered 'bay traders' are successfully taking a rather generous slice of the UK's online business and generating an estimated £2 billion in sales volume, more than the turnover of retail giants such as W H Smith, according to the latest findings from eBay.

The past two years alone have seen the number of people using the site as their primary or secondary source of income more than double as bargain-hunting Brits cash in on the craze. And for those who wish to turn their online habits into a viable business, it may be worth relocating to the East Midlands, which, is the eBay 'capital' and accounts for the largest number of new 'start ups.'

With 20 million users across the nation, and 10 million items listed for sale at any one time, eBay attracts around 15 million hits every month. But it isn't just eBay that has seen such a staggering growth. Other online retailers have reported a boost in sales, prompting fears that online shopping may well take over the traditional high street experience.

According to uSwitch.com, online sales are set to quadruple to £162 billion over the next decade and online shopping will account for over 40 per cent of all UK retail sales by 2020. In addition, lower overheads for online businesses mean that UK consumers could save over £13 billion a year by shopping online with each household saving £500 a year on everyday shopping and essential bills as well as saving time by opting to use online banking.

However, it isn't solely the UK that is reporting the phenomenon. Online shopping has seen a global increase according to a recent online survey by research company Nielson. The study into internet shopping habits found that more than 85 percent of the world's online population has used the internet to make a purchase, increasing the market for online shopping by 40 percent in the past two years.

Over half of internet users have made at least one purchase online in the past month with the most prolific net shoppers being South Koreans, where 99 percent of those with internet access have used it to shop, followed by the UK where 97 per cent say they regularly shop online.

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