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