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Whenever Qlocal reports something about Amazon such as promoting their Black Friday event there is often a backlash that this is damaging for UK businesses, especially on the high street.

The effect of onlines sales to high street retailers is hard to argue with but equally there are many businesses in the UK who have survived, even thrived, by selling online on the likes of Amazon and eBay.

Online sellers like Amazon have boomed during Covid due to lockdowns and even when stores reopened many people preferred to avoid unnecessary social contact. Many businesses unable to trade normally during Covid switched to online sales in order to survive.

A report by Amazon UK headed:

Small business success on Amazon – supporting 175,000 jobs in the UK and £3.5bn in export sales

Amazon helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get online and access hundreds of millions of customers around the world. Now we have more than 65,000 UK SMEs selling professionally on Amazon’s stores, up almost 20% year-on-year.

At Amazon, we invest heavily in a community of successful independent sellers, authors, content creators, delivery providers, developers and IT solution providers who partner with us. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) continue to account for more than 50% of everything we sell in our online stores, and we are always innovating to help them to grow their businesses.

The latest SME Impact Report reveals that to date, UK SMEs have created 175,000 jobs across the UK and recorded over £3.5 billion in export sales in 2020.

Despite COVID-19 creating a number of challenges for small and medium-sized businesses, many of them have adapted and been able to get online for the first time and thrive. Over 14,000 UK SMEs selling on Amazon surpassed £100,000 in sales, and over 1,000 reached £1 million in sales for the first time in 2020.

There are now more than 65,000 UK SMEs selling professionally on Amazon and they:

  • can reach hundreds of millions worldwide active customers around the globe – around 65% of them sold their products to customers around the world
  • recorded over £3.5 billion in export sales in 2020, a 20% increase year on year
  • sold more than 750 million products on Amazon, up from 550 million in same period the previous year – equivalent to more than 1,500 products a minute on average
  • saw more than £300,000 in annual sales on average – up year-on-year from over £200,000

“2020 was a challenging year for many small businesses, and we’ve continued to provide business owners, startups and entrepreneurs with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. Our latest report shows even more small and medium-sized businesses growing on Amazon stores, with a thousand new British businesses reaching £1 million on Amazon stores in sales last year for the first time,” said John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “These businesses come from the length and breadth of the UK, with marked increases in the number of new sellers from Swansea and Glasgow, together with SMEs in places like Durham, Doncaster and Milton Keynes increasing their export sales by more than 50% in the last year. We will continue to innovate for our selling partners, helping more businesses across the UK to reach and deliver a great experience for millions of customers around the world.”

Apart from their own products like Kindle, Echo, Alexa devices etc most products are from indepentent sellers using Amazon as a sales platform.

Zenstores a Bristol based company that helps with the processing of online orders and the booking of them onto delivery companies report having processed over 100 million of orders to date processed for UK businesses.

The move to online shopping is a change in the how more and more people make purchases these days. See - touch - feel of products on the High Street is unique but is often replaced by the comfort of online reviews on products.

Where does this leave the High Street? Many people still like to get out and "shop" and experience the personal service offered by many High Street retailers but it becoming quite clear that there are more and more hospitality on the streets such as cafes, restaurants and bars.

There is little doubt that online sales will continue to keep growing and businesses must adapt to changing and often challenging times.

The profits made by non UK owned retailers and the amount of tax paid to the UK government remains a bone of contention though. Whether Amazon, eBay, or social media giants like Facebook, Google and others - What is the fair share of revenue from sales and profits to the government.

Reported by the BBC in September 2021

Amazon pays £492m in UK tax as sales surge to £20.6bn

The firm paid £492m in direct taxation as its sales rose 50% to £20.63bn, amid a Covid-driven surge in demand.

Amazon and other tech firms, which pay tax on profits not sales, have faced scrutiny over the level of their tax bills in the UK.

But Amazon said it had invested £32bn in UK infrastructure since 2010.

"We are proud of the significant economic contribution we are making to the UK economy," Amazon said in a statement.

"Looking ahead, we know that the UK remains full of opportunity and we continue to be excited by the potential to continue to invest, create jobs, develop talent and have a positive impact in communities across the country," the statement added.

Amazon's total sales in the UK, rose to £20.63bn during 2020 - up by more than 50% from £13.73bn in 2019.

The direct tax bill was up by more than two-thirds compared with the £293m it paid in the previous year.

The firm, which employs 55,000 people in the UK, said the taxes included business rates, stamp duty, corporation tax and other contributions.

Amazon said employers' national insurance taxes accounted for the majority of the bill as it took on 22,000 more staff over the course of the last year.

The company's indirect tax bill came to £1.06bn, up from £854m, driven by VAT on increased sales and employee taxes, as it took on more people and increased wages.

Amazon said that when both direct and indirect taxation were taken into account, it had contributed £1.55bn, up from £1.15bn.

But what profit does Amazon make in the UK and how much tax paid?

This appears to be the missing number and where UK companies pay tax on the profit in the UK, Amazon like many others, move profits to other countries. Maybe the new "Nations agree to 15% minimum corporate tax rate" recently announced by most of the worlds major countries will change that.

Meanwhile the latest Black Friday deals on Amazon and eBay