Irish online shoppers see biggest jump in customs charges, survey finds

Increased fees due to Brexit and new EU laws on VAT

Some 26 per cent of the most recent cross-border purchases were made on Amazon, with AliExpress in second place on 19 per cent and eBay in third on 10 per cent. Photograph: iStock

Some 26 per cent of the most recent cross-border purchases were made on Amazon, with AliExpress in second place on 19 per cent and eBay in third on 10 per cent. Photograph: iStock

 

The Republic recorded the largest jump out of 40 countries in customs charges attached to online shopping last year, according to a new survey. The research from the International Post Corporation (IPC) found the proportion of Irish purchases hit with extra taxes jumped from 7 per cent to 29 per cent .

The surge came as a result of Brexit and reflects the continued dominance of British-based retailers in ecommerce in the Republic, according to the IPC.

Its annual Cross-Border E-Commerce Shopper was conducted among 33,000 consumers in 40 countries worldwide, accounting for 93 per cent of the global ecommerce market.

Alongside the impact of new legislation, the survey monitored current and future ecommerce trends and sustainability preferences.

It suggests that 25 per cent of consumers were affected by Brexit while 39 per cent of European consumers were affected by the EU’s new VAT and customs regulations which introduced new charges on all products bought from outside the EU from the beginning of July last year.

Shopping online

The proportion of global consumers shopping online (both domestically and cross-border) at least once a week was steady at 22 per cent, with Amazon the dominant player in ecommerce.

All told, 26 per cent of the most recent cross-border purchases were made on Amazon, with AliExpress in second place on 19 per cent and eBay in third on 10 per cent.

The survey analysed how consumers were affected by both the UK leaving the EU and the introduction of customs fees and the removal of a VAT exemption for low-value items coming into the EU.

Some 39 per cent of respondents said the new VAT rules had affected their cross-border purchases, with over half stating that the value of items purchased had increased and/or that they now paid additional custom fees compared to previous years.

The introduction of the new laws has seen a significant increase in the number of people who have had to pay ecommerce-related fees, with 21 per cent having paid import fees for purchases this year compared to 13 per cent in 2020.

Sustainable packaging

The survey revealed that consumers have continued to shop regularly online, with 22 per cent doing so at least once a week. The number has been steady after a spike in the number of people turning to online shopping rose due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

Overall, 79 per cent of consumers tended to shop online once a month. Domestic e-retailers rather than cross-border e-retailers are expected to become more popular in the future, with 27 per cent of respondents stating they will buy much more domestically.

Consumers continue to show interest in ensuring that online shopping becomes a sustainable option, with 49 per cent of participants saying they would prefer their cross-border parcels to be carbon-neutral and 44 per cent claiming to have changed their online shopping behaviours due to sustainability concerns.

Consumers also expressed concerns about how sustainable the packaging of their online purchases was, with 70 per cent stating they would like their packaging materials to be recyclable, 65 per cent saying they wanted their packaging to be reusable and 50 per cent wanting their packaging to be biodegradable.