The World’s Biggest Online Spenders Revealed

Last updated on November 8, 2018

worlds biggest online spenders

Since the advent of the internet, the cybersphere has morphed from simply an information hub into a digital shopping mall.

While the internet still functions as a resource, its use has hugely diversified over the years.

Now the world is inextricably interconnected by social networks and billions of dollars are digitally transferred daily.

Did Sir Tim Berners Lee, upon inventing the World Wide Web, ever foresee such a plethora of uses for it?

Did he imagine the sheer amount of money that (figuratively) passes through the miles and miles of fiber optic cables powering the internet?

Moving money via the internet is no longer reserved for high brow financial transactions performed by traders and investors. Everyone who has access to it is now able to (and does very frequently!) send money shooting through cyberspace.

The phenomenon of online shopping is one propelled by Generation X consumers (born 1966-1981). This is contrary to the popular belief that it is the tech-savvy Millennial (born 1982-2001) who is driving such strident ecommerce growth.

Digital buyers from Generation X actually make 20% more online purchases than their younger counterparts.

We’re now living in an age where the Baby Boomer (born 1946-1965) is waking up to the convenience of shopping online and the Millenial has grown up with it. This means ecommerce spend is only set to keep growing in years to come.

But just how much do people spend online? By 2021, global ecommerce sales are estimated to rise to a whopping $4.5 trillion. This means that in 3 years time, the figure will have almost doubled from revenues in 2017 of about $2.2 trillion.

Now you know the global figures, let’s delve deeper and see which country has the biggest online spending habit!

Who spends the most online?

Rank Country Ecommerce Spend Per Capita
#1 United Kingdom $4,201
#2 United States $3,428
#3 South Korea $2,591
#4 France $1,946
#5 China $1,855
#6 Australia $1,764
#7 Canada $1,746
#8 Japan $1,488
#9 Israel $1,361
#10 Germany $1,283

In pure monetary terms, Britons are spending the most online, with their ecommerce spend per capita at $4,021. Surprisingly, this more than doubles that of renowned ecommerce giant, China.

The more intriguing statistics came to light when we cross-referenced these figures with the average salary of each country in the study. This meant we could then see in which country people spent the largest percentage of their salary online.

#9France4.69%

Rank Country % of Salary Spent Online
#1 China 19.34%
#2 Mexico 17.31%
#3 Indonesia 12.66%
#4 United Kingdom 11.14%
#5 India 10.63%
#6 Russia 10.55%
#7 United States 7.63%
#8 South Korea 6.96%
#10 Canada 4.41%

This is where China’s ecommerce reputation precedes it. While the country may not top the table in pure monetary spend, they spend a higher % of their salary online than any other country in the world.

Almost a fifth of their salary is spent in the virtual rather than the physical world.

While the UK spends the biggest lump sum, more than doubling that of China, the percentage of their salary that the Chinese spend online (19.34%) almost doubles that of the UK (11.14%).

And in proportion to China, online shoppers in the US spend almost 3 times less of their salary online.

In second place is Mexico, who, while coming in relatively near the bottom of the pack for lump sum spend (7th lowest, $819), spend 17.31% of their salary online.

Interestingly, in terms of percentage of salary spent online, there is no correlation between LEDCs and MEDCs. Mexico, Indonesia and India all reside in the top 5 for biggest proportion of salary spent in cyberspace.

South Africans are the most thrifty online, spending $171, which also equates to the lowest proportion of salary spent (1.04%).

Check out our full data set to see where your country ranks!

Methodology

We used publicly available data from the Ecommerce Foundation’s Global B2C Ecommerce Report to find the ecommerce spend per capita for each country.

We then used the CNN Money Davos Global Wage Calculator to access the average salary for each country in the study. We converted this from the local currency to US dollars and cross-referenced it with the ecommerce spend per capita to find the % of salary spent online.

Sources:

  1. Ecommerce Spend Per Capita – Ecommerce Foundation: Global B2C Ecommerce Report, www.ecommercefoundation.org/reports. Full report here.
  2. Average Salary – CNN Money Davos 2017 Global Wage Calculator

Conclusion

Despite at first only just making it into the top 5 big online spenders, with a closer look, China’s ecommerce prowess became evident. In 2017, China had over 550 million online shoppers – that’s more than the population of the United States!

And on average, those 550 million digital buyers are spending a fifth of their salary online.

With China’s population and internet penetration rates on the rise, it doesn’t look like their ecommerce dominance will fade any time soon.

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Joshua Frisby

About Joshua Frisby

I have first hand experience building and launching websites - it's surprisingly easier to do than you think. I am fascinated by the online world and having worked in the tech industry for several years I am here to share my experiences and some interesting insights with you.

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Joshua Frisby

About Joshua Frisby

I have first hand experience building and launching websites - it's surprisingly easier to do than you think. I am fascinated by the online world and having worked in the tech industry for several years I am here to share my experiences and some interesting insights with you.

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