The number of Irish consumers shopping at international online stores exceeds the number of domestic online shoppers in Ireland, according to new PayPal research. 

The online payment firm estimated that a total of 2.2 million Irish consumers made a purchase from an overseas website in the last 12 months, compared to 2.1 million domestic online shoppers. PayPal said Irish online consumers are the biggest international shoppers worldwide, with a larger proportion (84%) shopping overseas than all 30 other countries surveyed.

The Global Cross Border Commerce Report, conducted by Ipsos on behalf of PayPal, reveals new insights into Irish shopping habits and the areas in which Irish businesses can improve to attract more customers.

Irish online shoppers spent €2.7 billion overseas in the past 12 months. Almost half-a-million people solely bought from websites outside of Ireland. Lower prices, more product variety and affordable shipping were some of the main drivers behind Irish shoppers choosing to buy from the top three import markets  - UK, US and China. Irish online shoppers were also deterred from shopping on domestic websites due to delivery fees and return shipping costs.

The survey revealed that total online spend is currently growing at around 20% year-on-year in Ireland, giving local businesses the opportunity to gain a larger stake of the expanding e-commerce market. The study forecasts that Irish consumers will spend €7.8 billion online this year, and up to €10.1 billion by 2020.

The research also suggests that mobile payments are rapidly growing in Ireland as more shoppers make purchases on-the-go. Two-thirds of those surveyed shopped using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, in the last 12 months. The research estimates that mobile spending in Ireland will grow by 61% in 2018 to €2.8 billion.

Louise Phelan, PayPal’s Vice President for Continental Europe, Middle East and Africa, said, "While our new research suggests Irish consumers prefer shopping from overseas websites, it also shows Irish businesses that there’s still so much to play for. In just two years’ time, e-commerce is going to be worth over €10 billion in Ireland. Irish businesses have a tremendous opportunity in front of them to attract more customers and increase their online sales."