eBay says North beats South as hub of English online selling

By Dan Wilson May 26, 2015 - 12:26 am

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.

  • Kieran Collings
    2 years ago

    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.

  • chrissieboy
    2 years ago

    Cheetham Hill – Manchester’s Cheetham Hill is counterfeit hub of the UK
    nuff said

  • james
    2 years ago

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

    • 2 years ago

      I have just checked in with eBay re this report and they’ve confirmed that it surveyed the whole of the UK it’s just that top 10 area are all in England.

    • james
      2 years ago

      thanks for checking Dan, its appreciated.

      it probably reads fine to those in England, however to the rest of us, sentences like
      “…than anywhere else in -the- England.”
      “The top English regions with the highest concentration…”
      “eBay says North beats South as hub of English online selling”
      kind of grate when juxtaposed with
      “…opportunities for small businesses across the UK ”

      in fact, reading over the article again, it looks like eBay have researched the whole of the UK, however when the data was “independently analysed by law firm, Sidley Austin LLP”, they just glazed over us pointless yokels.

  • 2 years ago

    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.

    • 2 years ago

      Thank you James. I heard a while ago about a bloke in Cardiff who received a letter addressed to Cardiff, England. The Capital of Wales and still some clown thinks its in England. So lets get it straight. There is England still basically Angle Saxon and the Celtic Countries of Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Northern Ireland. This is the make-up of the United Kingdom and Great Britain.

    • 2 years ago

      Erm, Chris T. By that logic why isn’t London top then?

      And also, measuring population by the number who are trading online is exactly what they have done!

      Don’t let the presented data get in the way of a good moan!

      Keep up.

    • 2 years ago

      London includes bits of Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Middlesex, Essex etc. Note that Essex comes in at Number 5 so perhaps ‘London’ is fragmented in the figures. Hence London as an entity is much smaller than Gfreater Manchester,Lancashire, West Yorksire etc.

  • 2 years ago

    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.

    • 2 years ago

      Clearly there are huge advantages to running a business outside of London/SE and certainly lower property rentals would be one such benefit.

  • James
    2 years ago

    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.

    • 2 years ago

      I am confused James. First you say that London has 1) More Intelligent and productive Labour. Then you say that the serviceable population is dense. Surely it cannot be both unless your understanding of language is different to mine.

    • James
      2 years ago

      Should have used the comparative adj. “denser”. Or “…serviceable population density of London is greater…” if you’re being anal about the correct syntax/grammar.

      Point still stands :)

    • 2 years ago

      No James I was actually agreeing with you. Many of the Londoners I come in contact with are Dense. In fact most of them a totally Thick but they think that they are something special.

    • James
      2 years ago

      Well I don’t disagree with you there. London did more or less vote for the Labour party which if anything demonstrates how dense many of them really are. Then again London does have an abundance of some of the smartest people in the UK (or even the world) which is hard to match anywhere else in the UK (maybe Oxbridge but in much smaller quantities) and certainly not the North.

    • John
      2 years ago

      Who makes statements like this? Frankly it’s quite irrelevant and condescending.

  • DBL
    2 years ago

    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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