eBay UK releases new export data revealing the importance of SMEs to the nation's economic growth

Press Release

eBay UK is releasing new export data revealing the resilience and importance of the UK’s 5.9million SMEs to the nation’s economic growth and global trade during the coronavirus crisis.  

Despite lockdown restrictions and challenging trading environments, the data highlights resilience, ingenuity and growth among the 300,000 SMEs trading to 190 global markets through eBay UK:

  • Over half (58.9%) of all UK SMEs on eBay exported international during lockdown (March and April)
  • Between March and April the value of SME exports on eBay rose by +2%, while the quantity of items exported rose by +7% 
  • The total value of SME sales during lockdown (March/April) rose by a third (+31%) in 2020 compared with 2019, while the value of SME exports fell only slightly by -1.3% despite significant trading barriers due to lockdown, including lower overall consumer spending and reduced delivery capacity.
  • Ireland, the US and Italy were the markets who bought the most number of items from UK SMEs during lockdown, collectively accounting for over 1.7million items shipped. Followed by:
    • Germany 
    • France 
    • Spain   
    • Australia 
    • Netherlands 
    • Portugal 
    • Denmark 
  • The US, Ireland and France were the markets who spent the most on UK SMEs products during lockdown, collectively accounting for over £41million worth of products. Followed by:
    • Germany
    • Italy
    • Spain
    • Australia
    • Netherlands    
    • Sweden           
    • Denmark
  • The top ten most popular categories for purchases during lockdown by value were influenced by our new working from home routine, and greater time on our hands to explore crafts, sports and hobbies:
    • Vehicle Parts & Accessories 
    • Computers/Tablets & Networking
    • Clothes, Shoes & Accessories
    • Home, Furniture & DIY 
    • Business, Office & Industrial
    • Sporting Goods          
    • Health & Beauty         
    • Toys & Games 
    • Jewellery & Watches 
    • Sound & Vision 


Jade Oliver who founded small interiors business Heavenly Homes & Gardens commented, “I run an interiors boutique based in Ross-on-Wye. We’ve been selling online through eBay for a while now, but during lockdown the proportion of our sales going to international buyers has really grown, with our top export countries being the USA, France, Germany and Italy.  During lockdown I had to close my physical store, so it’s been a real lifeline to be able to continue selling online, and reaching a bigger global pool of customers.” 


Commenting on the data Rob Hattrell, eBay UK VP said: “This is a worrying and difficult time for small business across the UK. But, while lockdown forced so many to shut up shop on our high streets, thousands have shown real imagination and agility, quickly pivoting their businesses models in search of customers further afield. The majority of SMEs trading on eBay during lockdown found new revenue streams from international markets. Exporting across the globe has provided thousands of small businesses with a much needed boost when many remain in the queue to receive Government support. 


“Looking ahead to a world after lockdown, the key for supporting British small business will be making sure export routes remain open and as friction free as possible.”