Sunshine, sea, beach, flamenco, and overly large servings of alcohol… Those are the first things that come to mind when we think about Spain. Ah yes, flamenco. In our mind’s eye, we see the stereotypical frilly, overly tight dresses for the women, and matador outfits for the men. But Spain has a lot more to offer in terms of fashion. Madrid Fashion week (12-17 September 2023), which is ranked fourth in the world of fashion after Paris, New York, and Milan, attests to the versatility and vision of Spanish designers.

Spanish fashion is first and foremost wearable. Key aspects for Spanish designers: comfort, the use of natural materials, and outfits that remain wearable beyond just one season. These are important aspects in view of climate change and the increasingly hot and long summers in Spain, where inland temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius.

For most Spanish, however, the top designers remain out of reach. They turn to the internet to recreate their idea of fashion by mixing and matching brands and styles. Let’s have a look at Spanish online shopping behavior.

In Spain, 51.2% of the population shopped online in 2021 (compared to 42.1% in 2019), and the number of e-commerce users is expected to reach 70% by 2027. Moreover, the fashion slice of e-commerce in Spain grew from a share of 7.8% in 2019 (approximately €24 billion) to 10.9% in 2021 (approximately €33 billion). Recent global events played an important role in accelerating shopper adoption of digital channels.

The tendency towards digital was noticeable before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the harsh lockdowns imposed throughout Spain sped up a multitude of changes in consumer behavior. The increased popularity of online and omnichannel shopping is particularly significant. Consequently, customers hold values such as authenticity or diversity in high regard. They have come to expect increasingly personalized shopping experiences. That is one of the reasons why social media has become more relevant in 2022, and social commerce started to gain more ground among Spanish shoppers.

Social commerce via Facebook and Instagram has grown in importance, with plenty of micro shops run out of private homes cropping up alongside the big-name brands. The products marketed on social media can then be viewed at markets, sales events, or private sales parties, much like the Tupperware or Ann Summers parties of the 1980s. On the other end of the scale, online giants like Shein, offering very affordable fashion – regardless of season – are cleaning up among the fashion-hungry Spanish.

At the start of 2022, Spain’s population was 46.73 million, with an almost even 50-50 gender split and roughly 48% of the population in the age group 18-54. Spain’s internet penetration rate stood at 94.0%. According to Statista, online fashion sales have been experiencing steady growth in recent years. Notably, Spain is home to some of the world’s most recognized apparel brands, as well as up-and-coming new designers. Fashion accounts for 22.8% of the total e-commerce market in Spain. According to the research consultancy, the expected compound annual growth rate for the next four years (CAGR 2023-2027) will be 10.1%. ecommerceDB distinguishes the following three sub-markets: Apparel, Bags & Accessories, and Footwear.

The Spanish Apparel e-commerce market accounts for 57.4% of the overall Fashion e-commerce in Spain. For Bags & Accessories, the online share is 31.4% and will increase by an average of 23.5% to 73.1% by 2027, while Footwear currently accounts for 31.3% and will increase by an average of 5.0% to 38.0% by 2027.

However, Statista also notes that the average annual wage in Spain stood at approximately €29,113 in 2022. Compared to other European countries, Spain therefore ranked fairly low alongside salaries in Italy and Slovenia, remaining far behind the top earners in Europe.

Key trends

Spanish shoppers, by necessity, have become some of the most discerning online customers, and are driven by key trends when it comes to online fashion shopping:

Sustainability at no extra cost to the consumer

  • 50% of consumers buy and sell second-hand products online.
  • 53% are willing to buy “on demand” to be more sustainable and reduce overproduction waste, despite longer delivery times.
  • 31% regularly use clothing-recycling services.
  • Only 1 in 3 consumers are willing to pay more for greener or more sustainable options, with most drawing the line at a 10% premium.

Free delivery

Up to 90% of online consumers prioritize free deliveries over receiving their purchases at home or paying a premium for express delivery.

  • 30% would rather pick up the order at a delivery point if that would reduce the cost.
  • €6 is the maximum online shoppers are willing to pay for express deliveries (24-48 hours) or home deliveries.
  • 14% would pay an annual subscription to receive free shipments, with an average annual rate of €27.50 (€ 2.30 per month, Amazon model).

Regular returns at a minimal cost

Most online consumers in Spain (7 out of 10) make returns on a regular basis, although these returns represent fewer than 10% of their purchases.

  • 21% of online shoppers are willing to pay for returns, but never more than 10% of the original value of the product.
  • 3 out of 4 choose to go to a store to return items in person, rather than paying for returns.
  • 1 out of 3 keep the unwanted product or resell it via second-hand shopping platforms.

Mobile phones as essential shopping tools

More than 3 in 4 Spanish online consumers habitually use their phones for shopping, although other devices are also popular.

  • While 77% report placing orders via their phones, 50% use a laptop, 32% a desktop computer, and just 18% a tablet.
  • 73% of digital purchases are made through websites, and 6 out of 10 respondents explicitly prefer websites over apps.

At least 20 euros per month

In Spain, 60% of online shoppers spend between €20 and €100 each month, and 28% spend more than €100 a month.

  • Overall, only 12% of online consumers choose payment plans.
  • However, 1 in 5 shoppers who buy online at least once a week, prefer payment in instalments.

An omnichannel customer journey

Online consumers’ first contact with a brand is usually via traditional channels (physical stores or recommendations). However, the digital world is increasingly important for gathering information and making the sale.
In addition, multi-brand marketplaces are becoming a valuable source for product searches.

  • 8 out of 10 respondents learn about new brands from recommendations and/or from seeing them in physical stores.
  • 80% use search engines and online shops to compare prices before deciding to buy.
  • 7 out of 10 discover brands and research purchasing decisions via multi-brand marketplaces. (Greater variety of offerings and competitive pricing, after-sales services, lower shipping prices, punctual and flexible deliveries, better return options)
  • 50% of shoppers consult social media in search of product and brand information, with Instagram currently at number one.
  • 59% of Generation Z consumers discover new brands via influencers, a percentage that drops to 28% among all consumers in the age group 18-54.

E-commerce in Spain v. brick-and-mortar-stores

In Spain, the drop in traffic at physical points of sale due to the e-commerce boom is palpable but has yet to reach its lowest point. Rising inflation, high energy prices, extortionate rents, unemployment, and rising taxes leave no expendable cash in Spanish pockets and force more and more closures of physical stores. Customers have no choice but to seek online alternatives. One of the most pressing tasks facing the Spanish fashion industry is to adapt them to a new type of consumer.

A store can no longer merely be a place for the purchase of goods – instead, it must become the nerve center of business strategy, where online and offline business efforts meet and customer loyalty is created. Another huge drawback of brick-and-mortar stores in Spain: they follow the traditional seasonal fashion calendar dictated by their head office. Most areas of Spain enjoy hot weather until late October, with day temperatures reaching up to 30 degrees Celsius – while all the big-name stores offer woolies, coats, fur-lined boots, and gloves. Correspondingly, stores are empty, racking up costs without revenue. Where is the logic?

A new way forward

Many companies have begun a restructuring of their store networks, whereby priority is given to flagship stores at the cost of multiple retail stores of smaller dimensions.

The use of digital experiences at the point of sale is emerging as one of the most effective methods to engage consumers and create emotional ties to the brand. Experienced fashion retail groups, including Topshop and Massimo Dutti lead the way. They have created virtual reality marketing actions for their physical points of sale, interlinking their customers’ online and offline shopping experiences. With Spain ranking at number 2 in the world in terms of tourist destinations, language accessibility in Spanish online and brick-and-mortar stores has become a priority.

Multilingual online and offline content can be crucial for the continued success of a brand. Most importantly, products must be easily accessible via mobile phones and other mobile devices, including intuitive order processes, Beyond tourism, immigration plays a huge role in the Spanish economy. As of 2020, there were 7,231,195 foreign-born people living in Spain (15.23%), including 5,015,263 (10.57%) born in a non-European country. Spain ranks fourth in the world in terms of immigrants accepted each year. Many have some knowledge of English, but little or no Spanish language skills at all. This influx of foreign nationals has brought movement into Spanish e-commerce, as this huge potential of possible customers is no longer ignored. Multilingual customer service, message bots, and multilingual websites and online shops, which used to be the exception, are quickly becoming the norm.



autor_eurotext_100Author: Eurotext Editorial Team

We explain how internationalization works, provide tips for your translation projects and outline some of the technology and processes used. We also report on current e-commerce developments and cover a range of language-related topics.