As is often the case, when hauled before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) marketplaces let slip some figures which aren’t generally in the public domain, and so proved the case in last Thursday’s session. Both Amazon and eBay revealed some numbers around the number of sellers registered on eBay and Amazon in the UK.
How many sellers are on Amazon.co.uk?
Amazon revealed that they have 280,000 registered sellers trading on the UK site. Of these, 16% or around 46,000 are from outside the EU. Half (~23,000) of all non-EU sellers make use of Amazon FBA.
How many sellers are on eBay.co.uk?
eBay revealed that of 200,000 professional sellers registered on the UK site, 157,000 (78%) are based in the UK. That leaves 43,000 (22%) from outside the UK and although they didn’t break down the numbers they said that a large bulk of non-UK sellers are from within the EU.
Another interesting datapoint was that 90% of all sales on eBay UK are from domestic UK sellers. It would appear that UK consumers like buying from UK sellers.
How many non-EU sellers are not registered to pay VAT?
HM Revenue and Customs told the PAC that the number of online sellers from overseas registered for VAT has risen from 700 at the end of 2015 to 17,537 by the end of August 2017.
If 17 thousand odd have registered and all of them sold on Amazon then at least another 5,000 sellers are not yet registered. As it would appear likely that not all the unregistered sellers would sell on both eBay and Amazon that number is likely to be significantly higher and of course a proportion of the 23,000 EU sellers trading on Amazon UK may also be liable to register for UK VAT if their UK turnover is high enough.