21 Key Statistics on Online Shopping vs In-Store Shopping in 2021

Statistics on Online Shopping vs In-Store Shopping - Featured Image

21 Key Statistics on Online Shopping vs In-Store Shopping in 2021

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Ecommerce has been growing at a remarkable pace for the last ten years, primarily due to its convenience. Its popularity simply exploded during the lockdown in 2020, as it presented shoppers with a safe alternative to visiting physical stores.

On the other hand, in-store shopping still has its undeniable appeal. After all, when you go with your friends, you get that precious feedback no screenshot comment can replace. 

Take a look at our most recent statistics on online shopping vs in-store shopping and see where commerce is headed in 2021. We’ll discuss, among other interesting facts, the changes in consumer behaviour, the economic aftermath of the pandemic, and the global expansion of online retail.

Top Online Shopping vs In-Store Stats (Editor’s Choice)

  • UK online retail sales have more than tripled in the last ten years.
  • Ecommerce in the UK grew 46.5% in 2020.
  • 29.6% of UK consumer spending is expected to shift to online purchases permanently.
  • 55% of UK shoppers will continue to use primarily online channels after the pandemic.
  • 80% of global consumers feel comfortable with returning to physical stores.
  • 35% of shoppers browse online stores for fashion inspiration at least once a week. 
  • In-store and mobile commerce are the two most popular shopping channels.

Statistics on Online Shopping vs In-Store Shopping in the UK

1. Online retail sales in the UK have more than tripled in the last ten years.

(Retail Economics)

Shoppers of all generations have embraced online stores as another convenient way to purchase their favourite items. Consequently, the UK ecommerce market today is 324% bigger than it was ten years ago.

2. Online shopping statistics for the UK show ecommerce sales grew 46.5% in 2020.


Due to the challenging circumstances of 2020 and 2021, the ecommerce market has grown enormously and will continue to expand at a lower but still fantastic rate of 20.5%. Forecasts estimate that sales will reach £185.22 billion this year.

3. Ecommerce share in all retail sales will reach 37.5% in 2021.


Ecommerce vs brick-and-mortar statistics show that the gap between the two shrank significantly in 2020. For comparison, in 2019, 21.8% of the shopping was done online, while  78.2% — in-store. Due to the global shift to online purchases, the difference is expected to decrease further in the next few years.

4. In May 2021, UK online retail sales fell by 9.1% compared to the previous year.

(Charged, Office for National Statistics)

In May 2020, ecommerce sales in the UK grew by 61%. The 9.1% drop in May 2021, compared to the same time the previous year, is the largest on record. However, in the context of 2020’s unprecedented growth, the decrease does not look so shocking. 

On the other hand, ecommerce vs brick-and-mortar statistics for the UK suggest that this drop was caused by the reopening of physical stores. As online sales decreased, physical retail purchases grew by 9.2% in April 2021.

5. Ecommerce accounted for 28.5% of all retail sales in the UK for May 2021.

(Office for National Statistics)

Online shopping statistics in the UK show that the share of online sales crossed the 30% threshold in 2020 for the first time and rose as high as 36.3% in November 2020 and January 2021. 

With the loosening of the restrictions and increased in-store shopping, we are yet to see whether the ecommerce forecasted share of 37.5% of all retail sales will happen by the end of 2021.

6. 29.6% of UK consumer spending is expected to shift online permanently.

(Alvarez & Marsal)

Online shopping vs in-store shopping research shows that in six key European countries, a significant percentage of household spending will shift to online purchases permanently. The change will be most prominent in Italy, with 38.4%, and in Spain, with 33.2%.

Certain products would be bought online more often than others, such as fashion purchases, with a 27.3% rise. Research shows that 35 to 44-year-olds in these countries will shop for apparel primarily online in the future.

7. 55% of UK consumers will shop more online after the pandemic than they did before.


As ecommerce grew by almost a half in 2020, the rise will not continue as strongly in 2021. Still, over half of UK consumers will purchase online more frequently than they did before the pandemic.

8. In June 2021, 29.5% of textile, clothing, and footwear sales were made online.


In the UK, online shopping statistics show the largest shopping segment is fashion. It’s not surprising, knowing that browsing for fashion items is a popular leisure activity. 

9. Retail footfall sales on high streets plummeted by 46.7% year-over-year in March 2020.


Online shopping vs high street statistics on retail football show a trend of decline or only slight growth throughout 2019. Then, in 2020, the decrease reached its maximum of 81.8% in April, followed by another drastic 63.9% drop in November. 

In 2021, high street decline statistics still show the effects of the pandemic, with over 30% decrease in footfall-related purchases compared to 2019. However, the reopening of the country promises a recovery in sales.

10. 64% of UK consumers prefer shopping on high streets to online browsing.


According to online shopping vs high street statistics, Britons are still keener on purchasing in stores. While in 2019, 34% said they preferred online shopping, the growth in retail sales right after the lifting of restrictions shows that it’s still hard to replace the appeal of physical shops.

Statistics on Online Shopping vs In Store Shopping - Woman holding mobile phone

Global Online Shopping vs In-store Shopping Statistics in 2021

11. 2.14 billion people in the world shop online in 2021.


Around 27% of the entire human population shop online, 2021 online shopping statistics show. With the growing market, it’s no wonder that ecommerce stores are counted in millions.

12. Ecommerce is projected to reach 19.6% of all retail sales globally in 2021. 


While different researchers come up with slightly varying figures, especially due to the pandemic-caused growth in 2020, the relevant authorities confirm the 19.6% projected ecommerce share of all retail

13. Global ecommerce sales are expected to grow by 16.8% in 2021, reaching $4.921 trillion.


One of the key online shopping facts is that the market grew substantially last year, by 25.7% globally. Consequently, in 2021, ecommerce is expected to expand with differences across the regions. 

The top region will be Asia-Pacific, with 60.8% of the global market. The second-largest share will belong to North America with 20.3%, and the third is Western Europe with 12.6%.

14. 80% of consumers around the world feel comfortable with returning to physical stores.

(Mood Media)

In 2020, only 62% of UK shoppers felt comfortable with returning to brick-and-mortar stores. Data on online shopping vs in-store shopping for 2021 shows that the percentage has grown to 76% following the vaccination campaigns,

15. 43% of US consumers now buy products they used to purchase in stores, more frequently online.

(Harvard Business Review)

According to statistics on online shopping vs in-store shopping, the habits of 80% of US buyers are still evolving due to the pandemic. The majority of them, about 60%, now visit physical stores less frequently than before the lockdown. 

16. 22% of consumers will continue to purchase fashion online.

(Mood Media)

What drives 59% of the shoppers to the stores is the ability to feel, touch and try out a product on the spot. About 51% prefer it because they can browse and take the chosen item home immediately, as statistics on online shopping vs in-store shopping show.

17. 35% of shoppers missed shopping in stores with friends.

(Mood Media)

Going shopping with friends and having fun is the second most-missed aspect of in-store shopping, right after trying and feeling products. However convenient online browsing is, it cannot replace the physical stores’ social and leisurely factors.

18. 35% of shoppers browse ecommerce stores for fashion inspiration at least once a week. 

(McKinsey & Company)

Another one of the online vs in-store shopping statistics that points out the blurring lines between the channels is the frequent online browsing for inspiration. The overall impression of a site means a lot for a retailer’s image and may lead to in-store conversions.

19. In-store and mobile commerce are the two most popular shopping channels.


According to online shopping statistics, in June 2021, 39% of consumers shopped via their mobile daily or weekly, while 45% said they shopped in a store. The growth of mobile commerce was also the highest and most consistent of all channels.

20. 37% of US consumers will buy online and pick up in stores more often in the future.

(Harvard Business Review)

The popular debate on shopping online vs in-store might become futile soon. Trends point to a hybrid shopping experience rather than a continuing clash between the two. Solutions such as fulfilment centres have a bright future ahead.

21. Between 20,000 and 25,000 stores were expected to close in 2020 only in the US.

(McKinsey & Company, Business Insider)

On the other side of the pond, in 2020, one-fifth of UK retailers stated their stores could remain permanently closed after the pandemic. While the situation gradually improves as the country reopens, the recovery will certainly be a long one.


One thing is certain — neither online nor in-store shopping will ever be the same. Consumer habits have changed in the UK and on a global scale, and new trends are still unfolding as the percentage of online sales vs brick-and-mortar in 2021 shows.  

On the one hand, a significant number of people permanently shifted their fashion shopping to online purchases, and the same applies to other product categories.

However, statistics show there’s still hope for the physical stores — improved by the hardship of 2020, but still the same browsing and relaxing hubs at their core. 


Is online shopping more popular than in-store shopping? 

Looking at ecommerce vs brick-and-mortar statistics, we can conclude that the in-store shopping experience is still hard to replace. While online retailing is growing and becoming more popular with time, physical stores still offer the sensory experience of trying out a product along with satisfying shoppers’ social needs — such as sharing the experience with friends. 

What percentage of shopping is done online?

According to online vs in-store shopping statistics, 19.5% of total retail sales in the world will come from ecommerce in 2021. This figure is expected to grow in the future, especially in countries with high online shopping market penetration, such as the UK.

Estimates show that by 2024 ecommerce will reach 21.8% of all retail sales, as online shopping is currently among the most popular digital activities.

How many people shop online compared to in stores?

87% of UK households shopped online in 2020, the highest rate ever recorded in the UK. While this number used to be smaller, online and in-store shopping are closer to being equally represented.

Regarding how many people shop online globally, the answer in 2021 is 2.14 billion, which is around 27% of all people worldwide.

What percentage of purchases are made in-store?

According to eMarketer, around 62.5% of sales in the UK will be made in-store by the end of 2021. The rise of ecommerce was thanks to the restrictions the government imposed due to the pandemic and resulted in shopper’s reluctance to visit physical locations. 

As the measures loosened, people started going back to their previously enjoyed shopping experience due to the appeal online browsing can’t provide.   

Why do retailers operate online?

Overhead costs for online retailers are much smaller as they don’t need such complex infrastructure. That is why online shopping is cheaper — it allows retailers to sell their products at lower margins and attract price-sensitive customers. Also, setting up online shops in digital marketplaces allows many to start their ecommerce stores easily.

What percentage of retail sales are online in the UK?

In 2021, eMarketer forecasted a rise in ecommerce shares reaching a fascinating 37.5% of all retail purchases. So far, national statistics show that monthly values ranged from 36.3% in January 2021 to 28.5% in May 2021.

However, over 60% of UK shoppers are still keener to shop in physical locations thanks to the experience it offers. Nonetheless, data shows that more and more fashion purchases, for example, are made online.  

What percentage of retail sales are online?

According to the latest statistics on online shopping vs in-store shopping, ecommerce accounts for 19.5% of all retail sales worldwide. Research shows that by 2024, the figure is estimated to reach 21.8%.

The pandemic resulted in a change in shopping habits, and currently, more people purchase products online or resort to in-store pickups.