Ethical online shopping in the UK
When this guide was first produced in 2014, it was based on feedback from readers about which ethical online shops they used most. Sadly, many from that list are no longer trading, including the popular and high-scoring Global Seesaw and Nigel’s Eco Store.
This gives an indication of what a difficult market online retail is, particularly for small companies. The internet is a big place and Amazon dominates every Google product search. Larger retailers have other advantages too, such as being able to offer discounts that undercut competitors and having multiple warehouses around the country which makes delivery cheaper.
Ethical online retailers also have a limited range of products to sell, precisely because they’re ethical. And the products they do sell often crop up on the sites of several ethical retailers and on Amazon and eBay as well. It’s worth bearing these difficulties in mind when looking at the score table.
Ethical shopping in 2021
Our Ethical Consumer Market Report, which tracks the sales of ethical goods and services, shows that the market for ethical goods is still growing.
The 2019 report valued the ethical market in the UK at £41.1 billion, an almost 400% increase over 40 years.
The 2020 report focused on the impact of the pandemic on people’s predisposition to shop ethically. The image below shows pre-lockdown vs. post-lockdown behaviour change.
The big winners appeared to be shopping locally, reducing energy consumption and cycling more, with public transport set to be the big loser, at least in the short term. In terms of food shopping, buying fair trade and organic increased following lockdown.