E-commerce in Portugal and the European Union in 2023 - residential and business segment

Executive summary

44% of the population aged 16 to 74 have made a purchase online and 10% have made a sale online

In 2023, 44.0% of the resident population aged 16 to 74 in Portugal made purchases over the internet in the three months prior to the survey1, an increase of 1.3 percentage points (p.p.) compared to last year.

Looking at the 12 months prior to the survey, 54.8% of the population made at least one transaction of this type during this period (+1.2 p.p. compared to last year, the lowest annual growth since 2016). The highest annual growth was recorded in 2020 (+5.8 p.p.) and 2021 (7.1 p.p.), years affected by the change in consumer behaviour due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 25.7% of Portuguese residents aged 16 to 74 have never made an online purchase. On the other hand, around 10.3% of the population have made an online sale.

Portugal ranks 24th in the European Union (EU27) in terms of the percentage of the population having made an online purchase in the last three months and 23rd in terms of online sales.

Clothing and footwear, home-delivered meals and cosmetics are the most commonly ordered goods

“Clothing/footwear” (67.6% of the population who shopped online) and “home-delivered meals” (38.9%) were the most commonly ordered goods online, followed by “cosmetics, beauty and wellness products” (29.7%) and “computers, tablets, mobile phones, additional IT equipment or accessories” (26.2%). “Books, magazines or newspapers (paper)” was the type of product that fell most compared to last year (-3.8 p.p.).

Portugal ranked 5th in the EU27 for the online purchase of “computers, tablets, mobile phones, additional IT equipment or accessories”, 11th for the purchase of “home delivered meals”, 12th for the purchase of “books, magazines or newspapers (paper)” and 13th for “cosmetics, beauty or wellness products”, “sports equipment” and “vehicles or vehicle parts”.

Among digital products, “movies, series or sports programmes to download or subscribe to online” stood out as the most commonly purchased digital product on the internet (37.6% of the population made online purchases). Portugal ranked 9th in the EU27 for purchases of this type of digital product.

As for services purchased online, the most popular were “tickets for cultural or other events, such as cinema, concerts, fairs”, “transport services” (both 37.9%) and “accommodation services” (36.2%). Portugal ranked 14th, 14th  and 9th in the EU27 respectively for the purchase of these services.

User profile

The population with higher levels of education, higher income, working or studying had a higher proportion of online purchases and sales. This profile is similar to the EU27 average and was the same as the previous year. Residents of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area were those who made the most purchases or orders over the Internet in the three months prior to the survey (51.1%).

17% of companies received orders via electronic networks in 2022

In 2022, around 17.0% of Portuguese companies with 10 or more employees received orders via electronic networks (-2.7 p.p. below the EU27 average and -1.4 p.p. below last year’s level). These orders account for 19.0% of turnover (+1.8 p.p. compared with the previous year).

Although most companies receive orders via their website/app, around 6.0% of the companies surveyed received orders via e-commerce portals or digital platforms (via apps) used by several companies.

95% of respondents had no difficulty in ordering online

From the perspective of the population having shopped/ordered online, 95.4% had no difficulties in doing so, placing Portugal 1st in the EU27 ranking in this category. The most commonly reported problems when shopping online were the “delivery time of the order” and “receiving damaged or wrong goods or services” (both around 2%).

According to the latest data available, for 2021, the main barriers to using e-commerce was “preference for face-to-face contact, force of habit or loyalty to usual sellers”, followed by “no need to buy online” and “concerns about payment security”.

High delivery and returns costs still the main problem identified by companies

From a business point of view, more than half of companies that sold to customers in other EU countries reported some difficulties in this process (56.2%, up 27.9 p.p. compared to the previous survey), with the main problems reported being “high delivery and return costs” (32.9%) and “difficulties related to the VAT system in EU countries” (24.3%), according to the most recent data available for 2022.

1 European Commission (EC) survey, Information and Communication Technologies Usage in Households and by Individuals, for which fieldwork was carried out in Portugal between May and July 2023.