Brexit checklist to support shoppers as uncertainty grows

CCPC research shows number of online shoppers unsure of what to do in response to Brexit increases from 8% to 23%


Research by the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has shown an increase in the number of consumers who are unsure of what to do in response to Brexit, rising from (8%) in 2019 to (23%) in 2020. Currently, consumers who buy from UK websites are protected by European consumer protection law, which will not automatically be the case from 1 January 2021. When asked about their rights when shopping online, 2 in 5 (42%) consumers were unaware that there was a difference when buying from an EU versus a non-EU country. The CCPC has created a checklist (attached) to help consumers be Brexit-aware if they are shopping online this Christmas. 


The CCPC insights show that in the context of the global pandemic, coupled with the uncertainty of Brexit, consumer behaviour has changed since 2019. The number of consumers buying from UK based businesses has declined from 72% (2019) to 53% (2020), while the numbers planning to buy online from other EU countries after Brexit have also dropped sharply from 24% (2019) to 9% (2020). This behavioural shift by consumers is contrasted by an 18% increase (YOY) in the number of consumers planning to buy more from businesses based in Ireland. Over 1 in 3 (37%) consumers now expect to buy more from Irish businesses, both online and in-store.  

Despite a decline in consumers buying from UK based businesses, the research shows 1 in 2 (53%) consumers are still buying goods from the UK, with clothing, footwear and electronics identified as the most popular purchases. This, coupled with the fact that (42%) of consumers were unaware of the differences in consumer rights when shopping from EU versus non-EU countries, suggests that some consumers may be more vulnerable to the changing consumer environment post-Brexit.


Although UK consumer protection law will remain in place from 1 January 2021, without a formal agreement between the UK and the EU, a level of uncertainty remains for consumers when buying, or returning goods to UK based businesses post-Brexit. With research showing that 1 in 5 (23%) consumers are still unsure of what to do in response to Brexit, the CCPC has created a consumer checklist to help online shoppers be Brexit-aware this Christmas:


- Check where the business is based: If you buy online from an EU website you have strong rights, including the right to change your mind within 14 days of when you receive your purchases and a further 14 days to return them. If you can’t find where the business is located easily, approach with caution. If the business is based outside of the EU, you may consider finding an alternative EU store, to ensure you have stronger rights should an issue arise in the future.

- Buy from reputable retailers: When shopping online, be sure to buy from reputable retailers. It can be hard to know who you are buying from online, when buying from a site for the first time it’s important to do some quick research, check reviews and social media pages

- important to read the terms and conditions on their website and check for the following information:

·       Can you return the item if you change your mind?

·       Can you cancel your order before it is dispatched?

·       Do you have the right to return the item?

·       If you can return an item, who pays for the cost of returning it – you or the business?

- Check for additional taxes or charges: If you are buying from a business outside of the EU, including the UK, import taxes or additional charges may apply to your purchase, for example VAT or customs charges upon delivery. Be sure to read the terms and conditions on the business’s website before you buy, as unless stated otherwise, you will need to factor in these additional charges into the overall cost of your purchase. You can find out more details about these charges from and

-  Pay by card: when shopping online, so if you do run into problems you may have the option of a chargeback from your credit or debit card provider. When you put in your card details look out for an ‘s’ after ‘http’ at the beginning of the url and a padlock symbol in your browser’s task bar which shows the website is secure. If it isn’t there, be very wary of proceeding any further.

Gráinne Griffin, Director of Communications with the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission said: “In the build up to Christmas, more consumers than ever are shopping online and it is important for consumers to be aware that, from 1 January, Brexit will mean changes when buying online or returning goods from UK based businesses. This is especially important for those who may be considering buying high value goods from UK based businesses and who want to feel confident that that can follow up easily in the new year in case of any aftersales issues. As the research suggests, consumers are understandably unsure when it comes to Brexit and what it will mean for them when shopping online. To support consumers, we have developed a checklist to help guide them through the important steps that they can take, to ensure they are Brexit-aware when shopping online this Christmas.”  

For more information on Brexit and shopping online visit

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