eBay says North beats South as hub of English online selling

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The North of England is the UK’s online retailing hotspot according to a new report from eBay’s Public Policy Lab.

Denting the popular perception that London is the country’s ecommerce powerhouse, eBay’s report shows that Greater Manchester has a greater concentration of small online businesses than anywhere else in England. The report, based on newly released eBay data, has been independently analysed by law firm, Sidley Austin LLP.

The report calculates “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. Central London, which includes Shoreditch and Tech City, is in 26th place.

The top English regions with the highest concentration of small online retail businesses are:

1 Greater Manchester
2 Lancashire
3 West Yorkshire
4 Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire
5 Essex
6 Cheshire
7 West Midlands
8 Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire
9 Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire
10 Shropshire and Staffordshire

Sarah Calcott of eBay UK says: “Our research shows that technology is opening up tremendous opportunities for small businesses across the UK with digital clusters spread across the country, particularly in the North West and Yorkshire.

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, despite lacking the infrastructure of a traditional exporter.

Our technology is now breaking down barriers to global markets by allowing small businesses access to products and services that were once the preserve of large firms, such as smart shipping, international payments and translation, and using our global market to access millions of potential customers.”

eBay gum.

18 Responses

  1. I have had a few experiences with companies further up north, some trying to sell me stock, others wanting to buy some stock for their business, all the ones i encountered appeared to have dodgy tax arrangements, asking if they really had to pay VAT on the purchase when they should be VAT registered themselves (and claimed to be on ebay), another trying to sell me stock from a company that had a false VAT number etc. I am sure that there are many genuine businesses at the top of england but avoiding tax is a massive advantage if you get away with it, i am sure there are more businesses around the whole country with questionable tax affairs, but i personally just experienced more dodgy setups up north compared to down south. Ebay of course do not really get involved with VAT evasion as i think we all know, they are quite happy to take their commission asking the minimum questions legally required.

  2. can someone please recognise that england isnt the whole of the UK?
    the two aren’t freely interchangable either.
    wasting my time as ever….

  3. What a surprise. Areas with the highest population have the largest number of SME’s selling on ebay. I wonder what the position would be if it was what percentage of the Local Population traded on ebay.

  4. or eBay could say, those with cheaper business premises oop North enjoy a compettive advantage over the southern softies. Sell your £500K terrace house in London and buy a warehouse and a house in Newcastle.

  5. I think it is a mixed bag.

    Northern cities have the advantage of

    i) cheaper labour
    ii) cheaper rent
    iii) cheaper 3rd party labour (where needed)

    Southern cities (esp london) have the advantage of

    i) More intelligent and productive labour (generally).
    ii) Proximity to London – which is great for networking, flow of information and use of tech
    iii) Possible future advantage in logistics? When sameday logistics becomes more commonplace and a standard expectation (possibly less than 5 years away), London based e commerce businesses might have an advantage as the serviceable population of London is dense and within a few hours drive as opposed to the sparsity of Northern cities.

    I have a London based e commerce business and find a mixed of fulfilment and local suits us fine. I think this would only really become an issue if the business were to grow to such an extent where very large warehousing would be needed in which case either fulfilment (which I think will become cheaper and more commonplace anyway) or warehousing in the north with office labour in the south.

    I’d never give up living in London for the North anyway – happy to take a slight dent in profits for the privilege.

  6. Why is this turning into North v South issue?

    Perhaps the lack of jobs in some of these cities has prompted more self employment, regardless it’s good for the economy so well done to all who have a successful business and are employing people wherever you are in the country!

    YAY for business!


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