The UK may not have the largest economy in Europe, but retail e-commerce in the UK has hit its full stride.

"UK online buyers outspend their European and even American counterparts on an annual per capita basis," says Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Europe Retail E-Commerce: Spotlight on the UK, Germany and France. "eMarketer projects that the average online spend on all products and services, including travel and event tickets, will be $2,171 in the UK in 2006, compared with $1,831 in the US."

Internet usage and broadband adoption are basic technology building blocks that support an e-commerce economy. As of last year, Germany had the largest base of Internet users (37 million) and broadband households (nine million) in Europe.

"But the UK is the most mature market," says Mr. Grau, "by virtue of having the highest percentage of Internet users, at 47%, and broadband households, at 35%."

Meanwhile, Spain and France are the fastest-growing Internet user populations, and Germany and Italy lead in broadband uptake.

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