UK the 'most digitally advanced country in Europe'

However, McKinsey expects the use of digital services to fall as data-conscious Brits return to physical channels

A McKinsey survey of over 20,000 European citizens revealed that 86% of Brits have used e-commerce or online services in the past six months.

The report suggests that this makes the UK the most digitally advanced country in Europe, ahead of France (82%) and Germany (65%), and only behind India (88%) and Brazil (97%) on a global scale. 

Around seven million people in the UK have accessed new digital services since Christmas, mostly grocery and education services as a result of the pandemic, with McKinsey estimating a total of 43 million digital users in 2021.

Over the last six months, digital growth has remained the same, according to McKinsey, but it may drop once the pandemic is fully over. The report suggests that over nine million Brits are expected to return to physical stores as soon as they are safe to do so. 

"With consumers having reached high levels of digital penetration in most regions and industries, the acceleration into digital channels now seems to have levelled off in both Europe and the United States," McKinsey said. 

"As a result, even as total digital adoption remains above pre-pandemic levels, many industries and regions may see a modest negative net change in post-pandemic digital use relative to 2020." 

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Consumer expectations of the post-pandemic future suggest a strong return of physical channels, according to the report, with some expecting to fully return to pre-pandemic behaviour. The main sectors here include travel, banking, telco carriers and entertainment. 

In the UK, 35-44 year-olds plan to use fewer digital services after the pandemic, citing "distrust" as a result of data handling. This was also apparent in questions around security, with 44% of the respondents suggested they didn't fully trust digital services. 

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