UK consumers still favour European retailers, despite Brexit and pandemic

  • 55% likely to buy from Western Europe and 45% from Northern Europe
  • Londoners are the most willing to buy from overseas versus those in the South West who are the most reticent
  • Despite ‘support local’ movements in the wake of the pandemic, buying from local retailers only matters to 14% of British shoppers 
  • One in five people believe that most online reviews are fake, yet they remain an important consideration for nearly a third (30%) of shoppers, and online buying behaviour changes as half of consumers recognise an increased risk of fraud following pandemic
  • Attitudes to free delivery vary by generation with 76% Gen Z willing to pay more for a product if free delivery is on offer 


This month, leading global payment service provider, emerchantpay, published the second and third instalments of its New World, One Market Report, which examines consumer behaviour post-pandemic. The latest two chapters reveal stark differences in attitudes to the factors that influence a purchase decision, with splits across UK locations and generational groups.

The survey of over 2,000 British consumers showed that despite the disruption surrounding Brexit, 55% are likely to buy from Western Europe and 45% likely to buy from Northern Europe, when choosing where to buy from. In addition, supporting local retail only mattered to 14% shoppers, when asked about the most important factors influencing purchasing decisions,  increasing to 19% of Baby Boomers and dropping to 12% of Gen Z. Only 3% of respondents said politics was a consideration when choosing where to buy an item. This paints a picture of a modern consumer largely uninfluenced by geographic boundaries or shifts in global dynamics.

Respondents from Greater London were consistently more likely to buy from countries other than the UK. The majority of Londoners said they were likely to buy from Western Europe if given the option (63%), and more than half (56%) said they would buy from North America. They were also most likely among those we surveyed to buy from Russia (21%), Eastern Asia (47%), Southern Asia (34%), South America (26%), Africa (28%) and the Middle East (27%). Northern Irish respondents were most likely to buy from Northern Europe (53%), and those in the South East were most likely to buy from Eastern Europe (35%). 

People in the South West were the least likely to buy from countries other than the UK. 50% said they were unlikely to buy from South America if given the option. 48% declined to buy from Eastern Europe; almost a third (30%) wouldn’t buy from North America or Northern Europe; and almost a quarter (24%) wouldn’t buy from Western Europe. Welsh respondents were most likely among those who responded, to feel neutral about countries outside the UK.


The majority of consumers are eager to pay more if product delivery is free 

More than half (55%) of consumers are willing to pay more for a product if delivery is free. Consumers are happy to spend 4.63% more on average. 

However, opinions differ markedly by generational group: the majority of Gen Z (76%) and Millennials (62%) are willing to spend more, compared to the majority of Gen X (47%), Baby Boomers (62%) and the Silent Generation (56%) who are not. 

The average Gen Z consumer said they would pay up to £3.98 for delivery for an item up to £50 in value, versus Baby Boomers who are only willing to spend up to £1.74. The latter group was most likely to believe that delivery should always be free (48%).

Drop in consumer trust following the pandemic, while older generations are less loyal than their younger counterparts

One in five people believe that more than half of online reviews are fake. However, a third (30%) listed product reviews as an important consideration when choosing where to buy. 

More than a quarter (26%) said product reviews would encourage them to switch to another brand. But friends (75%) and relatives (71%) were the most important sources of advice for product recommendations, with social media influencing more than half (57%) of Gen Z.

Brand loyalty appeared to decline with age: 7% of Gen Z and 9% of Millennials claimed not to be loyal to any brands. The same answer was given by 17% Gen X, 23% Baby Boomers and 31% Silent Generation. 

Shoppers recognise a greater risk of fraud following the pandemic

In addition, our research found that 46% of shoppers feel that there is a greater risk of fraud now than before the pandemic. 50% believed there to be the same risk now as before – rising to 60% for Baby Boomers. 

In response to this perceived risk of fraud, consumers said they would only shop from trusted businesses (47%). A third (34%) said they change their passwords more frequently, while a fifth (22%) have been put off from buying from certain countries and 18% from some brands. 15% of people haven’t changed their buying behaviour at all.

Angus Burrell, SVP Retail, emerchantpay “The rise of eCommerce has undoubtedly changed the way we buy and it’s interesting to see that UK consumers continue to look beyond geographic boundaries despite Brexit or the pandemic. When it comes to the things that influence where we buy or how much we spend, like reviews or delivery charges, there are obvious differences between generational groups and it’s up to retailers to interpret these findings to understand their buyers. One thing is certain: retailers are under even greater pressure to ensure that the customer experience is as smooth and efficient as possible across all channels, wherever and however their customers want to buy.” 


This announcement follows the launch of the first chapter of the New World One Market report, which launched in June 2021.