News and press releases

  • Royal Mail
    6 July 2018
  • One in seven US shoppers have purchased from a UK site in the last three months 
  • American shoppers are significantly more likely to trust the authenticity of UK sites. The main reason for shopping at UK retailers is to purchase items that are exclusive to the UK, better quality and that they know are genuine
  • Average US shopper spends $103 (£79) per month shopping online in total, compared to UK shoppers who spend £76 online per month
  • Clothes and books are their most popular purchases 
  • Healthcare products are more likely to be purchased by American online shoppers compared to the International average

Purchasing from the UK

The average shopper in America spends $86 (£66) per month shopping on UK websites, according to a study commissioned by Royal Mail. One in seven (14%) American online shoppers have purchased from a UK site in the last three months. With global reach and the number one facilitator of ecommerce in the UK, Royal Mail is well placed to observe trends across the industry.

The main reason American shoppers buy from UK retailers is to purchase items that are exclusive to the UK (43%), are better quality (21%) and they know will be genuine (19%). Nine in ten of these shoppers trust items purchased from UK sites not to be fake, three-quarters (74%) buy from UK sites when products are not available locally and 71% like to purchase British brands.

The ability to return items for free, track items in full, as well as having a clear returns policy is more likely to encourage American online shoppers to use UK sites. The option to pay in local currency and provide good customer service is also important.

Word of mouth is the most common way US shoppers discover UK websites. Purchases are also more likely to be unplanned and made in the process of shopping rather than specifically chosen beforehand.

Shopping habits of US consumers in general

The average shopper in America spends $103 (£79) per month shopping online. US shoppers make purchases twice a month and 79% of total shopping spend happens online. The average American online shopper is fifty years old and is more likely to be female and live in a suburban setting.

Half of US shoppers make purchases via their smartphone (up from 32% in 2015), compared to the International average of 44% and UK average of 39%. 80% use a laptop or desktop to make online purchases and 24% use a tablet.

When it comes to products, the top two categories are clothes (47%) and books (25%) for American online shoppers. Healthcare products (24%) are also popular and shoppers are significantly more likely to purchase them compared to the International average of 15%.

When it comes to returns, over a quarter (26%) of American online shoppers have returned an item during the last three months. Two-thirds (66%) would be unlikely to shop with a retailer following a difficult return experience.

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said “It’s important for retailers to understand the distinct shopping habits of consumers in different countries. Shoppers in the US are regularly purchasing goods online and increasingly using their smartphone to do so. Clothes and books are particularly popular but it’s interesting to see that Americans are more likely to purchase healthcare products than the International average.”


For journalist enquiries contact:

Jasmin Prichard, Royal Mail press office


Royal Mail press office: 020 7449 8246

Note to editors

The research was independently conducted by Trinity McQueen and based on a representative sample of 1,500 American online shoppers.

About Royal Mail plc

Royal Mail plc is the parent company of Royal Mail Group Limited, the leading provider of postal and delivery services in the UK and the UK’s designated universal postal service provider. UK Parcels, International and Letters (“UKPIL”) comprises the company’s UK and international parcels and letters delivery businesses operating under the “Royal Mail” and “Parcelforce Worldwide” brands. Through the Royal Mail Core Network, the company delivers a one-price-goes-anywhere service on a range of parcels and letters products. Royal Mail has the capability to deliver to around 30 million addresses in the UK, six days a week (excluding UK public holidays). Parcelforce Worldwide operates a separate UK network which collects and delivers express parcels. Royal Mail also owns General Logistics Systems (GLS) which operates one of the largest ground-based, deferred parcel delivery networks in Europe.