Maltese love to shop online... from overseas
Malta is becoming a leading example of cross-border online shopping in the EU, according to an analytical report prepared by European Parliament experts for its internal market committee.
The number of consumers in the EU making online purchases from another member state (not their own) is still relatively low – just 23 per cent in 2010. The opposite is happening in Malta, where 90 per cent of all online purchases are made from “foreign” websites and service providers.
The only other member state with the same online shopping pattern is Luxembourg, according to the report, which is based on the most recent data on online consumer behaviour, including surveys conducted by Eurostat and Eurobarometer.
“There may be many reasons for this. It may be a result of restrictive choices in the local market, not only in terms of products and services but also in terms of local companies offering online shopping, or it may be the result of lower online prices when compared to the high street,” one of the EP experts explained when contacted.
According to the study, 64 per cent of Maltese respondents in a survey admitted that the internet was changing their shopping behaviour. Only 45 per cent of European consumers felt the same way.
“This really indicated that the internet is fast becoming a favourite tool with Maltese shoppers,” the expert said.
The study finds that overall, Maltese online shopping is developing at the same pace as in the EU, with about 40 per cent of those who have access to the internet making online purchases. However, the main difference is that while the majority of online shopping in the EU is still “domestic”, that of Malta and Luxembourg is “foreign”.
The EU is embarking on a new digital policy aimed at stimulating cross-border online shopping. Rules are being enacted so that online consumers will be better protected if they are not satisfied with their purchases.
According to the study, online shopping has doubled in the EU in the last five years. While in 2005 only 20 per cent of European consumers shopped online, the figure reached 40 per cent in 2010.
This growth is also a result of increasing internet access in the EU, which in Malta reached 70 per cent of all households in 2010 – the same rate as the rest of the bloc.
Fear of fraud still seems to be the main obstacle for increased cross-border online shopping in the EU even though payments have become much more secure in recent years.
Across the EU, consumers mainly buy clothes and travel related goods and services.