“Northern powerhouse” of e-commerce revealed

New index claims start-up businesses in the North of England are overtaking rest of the country in online retailing, with central London ranked 26th

Manchester has a greater concentration of e-commerce start-ups than anywhere else in the UK, followed by Lancashire and West Yorkshire, a new index by eBay’s Public Policy Lab has revealed.

The report, which calculated “digital densities” based on the volume and sales of small online retail businesses operating in a specific region, claims to have identified a new “Northern Powerhouse” of e-commerce.

Contrary to the common belief that London has the largest cluster of digital businesses, the report placed Central London, which includes Shoreditch and Tech City, in 26th place behind Essex (fifth place) and the West Midlands (seventh place).

The research also found that the UK is the biggest retail exporter in Europe with 51% of UK e-commerce start-ups exporting to four or more different continents – more than any other European country.

Additionally, the number of small British online retailers exporting to 15 or more countries was also found to have increased –  up 33% since 2010.

The UK 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, director of operations at eBay UK, commented:

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“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.”


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