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So what is the Consumer Conditions Scoreboard? It monitors the quality of the consumer environment at EU and national levels. It also tracks the progress in e-commerce development by looking at attitudes and experiences of both consumers and businesses in the digital single market. 

European e-commerce
© Novikov Aleksey / Shutterstock.com

How It Works

Coming right from the European Commission's brief on the complete Consumer Conditions Scoreboard, the information comes from 2 regular surveys – one survey of consumers, the other of retailers. It looks at 3 key dimensions that then form the composite Consumer Conditions Index:

knowledge of basic consumer rights and trust in institutional and market actors, in redress mechanisms, in product safety, in environmental claims, and confidence to engage in e-commerce;

compliance by traders with consumer law and effectiveness of public enforcement;

• consumer complaints for problems faced in the marketplace and the functioning of dispute resolution mechanisms.

It can be seen that, in 2018, consumer conditions continued to improve in 3 of the EU's 4 geographic regions, with Western Europe losing the exceptional momentum seen back in 2016.

Consumer Conditions Scoreboard 1
© European Commission

 Also, considerable difference persist between the high performing and the low scoring countries.

Consumer Conditions Scoreboard 2
© European Commission

The Main Takeaways

Retailers have a positive view on compliance with consumer legislation. A clear majority (71.5%) find it easy to comply with consumer legislation in their sector and country. In addition, 2/3 of EU retailers consider the related costs reasonable (67.8%) and say that their competitors comply with consumer law (67.7%). Consumers (70%) feel they can trust retailers to respect their consumer rights and over 60% are satisfied with how their complaints are dealt with by retailers.

Proactive enforcement of laws is making a difference as well. In 2018, 6 of 10 EU retailers assessed the enforcement of consumer and product safety legislation positively. The highest marks go to product safety legislation, where close to 3/4 of retailers (74.8%) appreciate the monitoring done by public authorities. 

More than half of EU consumers (56.8%) report that at least some of their purchasing decisions were influenced by environmental claims. More environmentally conscious EU consumers are those in southern (59.3%) and eastern (57.3%) countries.

The number of e-commerce consumers continues to move upward. According to Eurostat, in 2018, about 60% of consumers in the EU purchased online goods or services compared to only 30% in 2007. However, the proportion of consumers engaged in e-commerce varies considerably across the EU, with values ranging from 75% or more in Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany to around 20% in Bulgaria and Romania. The scoreboard shows that average consumer trust in buying online domestically (71.7%) remains consistently higher than trust in buying cross-border from other EU countries (48.3%).

Consumer Conditions Scoreboard
© European Commission

Offline, Off Line

About 1/5 of all enterprises engage in e-commerce. This proportion has been fairly stable for many years. The scoreboard reveals that e-commerce is not attracting many newcomers now when we compare it to the past few years. The vast majority (91%) of EU retailers already selling online in 2018 plan to continue to do so, less than a fifth (18.4%) of the other retailers (who only sell offline) declared any interest to engage in e-commerce in the next 12 months, and this proportion is declining compared to previous surveys.