Country Deep-Dive:

UK Market Overview

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) comprises the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The UK is the worlds 5th largest economy by GDP with a total population of around 67 million. As the world’s first industrialised economy, the economy is diversified and highly integrated within global supply chains.

Brexit has, and will in the future, drive major changes in the UK economy. The exit of the UK from the European single market and customs union imposed overnight changes to the trading relationships of the UK. The European Union remains the biggest trading partner for the UK representing 42% of total exports and 50% of total imports. The USA is the biggest national trading partner however for the UK.

More information can be found in our analysis: 

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Whilst Brexit has undoubtedly caused trade frictions with the EU, the full effects of this remain to be seen given that Brexit occurred at the same time as a sharp global downturn in trade due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As of the 1st January 2021 all UK exports to the EU have been treated as third country exports, meaning that they have had to comply with the same documentary, certification and other requirements as goods from the rest of the world, including in respect of issues such as permits for road haulage. Animal and plant-based food and feed products are additionally subject to quite specific requirements related to their respective health and safety risks.

Source: Population Density of the UK (Maps on the Web, 2022)

E-Commerce Trends in the UK

The UK has the most advanced e-commerce market in Europe and the third largest e-commerce market in the world behind the USA and China. Total B2C e-commerce sales topped £152 billion in 2021. Pre-pandemic e-commerce accounted for approximately 18% of all retail sales. However during the pandemic this increased to over 30%, and now hovers around the 25% mark.

Apparel and Fashion take a large share of the UK e-commerce market, accounting for 35% of the total. Food and Beverage comes in second with a 14% market share. Despite additional shipping complexities due to Brexit, cross-border e-commerce trade increased 38% in the years 2019 to 2021 to £27 billion. This makes the UK the largest source of cross-border e-commerce trade in Europe.

The geographically small size of the UK has allowed the e-commerce market to flourish, driving innovation and change to meet more challenging customer demand. All of the UK population can be reached by the major parcel carriers in 48 hours maximum, with over 98% of the population reachable within 24 hours. Market forces are challenging the industry to provide same-day and timed delivery services, with in-flight shipping options also increasing in prevalence.

More information can be found in our analysis.


existing sites

2+ M

shipments annually

>58,300 sqm

warehouse space

Arvato in the UK

Arvato have a growing presence in the UK serving a number of industry segments. We have two core sites located centrally near Birmingham and Derby which serve our e-commerce, retail and omnichannel customers. These sites are located strategically in the “logistics golden triangle” in close proximity to transport hubs, air and rail freight terminals. From these central locations we can reach all of the UK within 1-2 days leads time. An additional 14 smaller sites cover our presence within the Healthcare market. Our growth is not limited by our existing facilities as we proactively work with real-estate developers and our in-house Logistics Engineering specialists to source, design and build warehouses of the future.

We have seen an increase in our clients (new and old) seeking support with navigating the UK’s new trading relationship with our partners in the European Union. Our team of experts is on hand to help you understand and comply with these new requirements. We also work in partnership to support across the full import / export spectrum, including customs clearance and VAT deferment.

We benefit from our global IT backbone which is the same specification globally. This allows us to integrate clients quickly and seamlessly and draw on support from across the globe, in multiple timezones and multiple languages.

Clients benefit from our expertise across the e-commerce, retail and omnichannel space. Aside from traditional pick-pack-ship operations we offer a catalogue of extensive value-added services which include personalisation, gift-wrapping, bundling and kitting, security tagging, retailer packaging, and returns and refurbishment. Transportation Management and Customer Service are two other core competencies within our offering. Our dedicated team manage carefully selected transport providers to ensure high service levels and the best possible final mile and doorstep experience for your customers.

Our Solution for Your Growth

  • Embedded with major transport partners

  • Experienced in working with fashion, beauty, lifestyle, tech and healthcare clients

  • Flexible warehousing space, able to ramp up quickly to meet demand

  • One global IT backbone

  • Able to handle customs clearance complexities

  • Experts in reverse logistics and returns handling

Open questions? Please reach out to us!

Sam Rushall

Sam Rushall

Director Business Development