E-commerce sales were worth €312bn across Europe in 2012 (Reuters)

Britain has a burgeoning "armchair economy" of e-commerce businesses and hosts the biggest online retail market in Europe, according to iwoca, a finance house for eBay and Amazon Marketplace sellers.

The firm, iwoca, said it has seen a sharp rise in the number of business loans it is approving, having seen a doubling every quarter since its inception in March 2012 and a 1,400% rises on the year in May.

E-Commerce Europe, an umbrella association for national e-commerce industry organisations across the continent, calculates that Europe's market was worth €312bn (£269bn, $408bn) in sales during 2012. The UK plays home to 300,000 of the Europe's online retailers, with a market worth €96bn.

"The UK economy has stagnated but ecommerce is clearly growing and, looking at our particular customer base, it is clear that people are realising the opportunities of this emerging sector," said Christoph Rieche, CEO and founder of iwoca.

"One customer selling packaging materials on eBay increased his annual sales by 50% in just 12 months and we are seeing similar results across our customer base."

Online retailing in the UK is set to reach a total sales value of £87bn in 2013, 12% year-on-year growth, according to researchers IMRG Capgemini.

Tictail, a Swedish e-commerce platform that pitches itself as the Tumblr of internet retailing, launched in the UK in May.

"Essentially we just want to democratise selling online. We want to make selling online available to those people who don't care about e-commerce," Carl Waldekranz, Tictail's 27-year-old founder and chief executive, told IBTimes UK in an interview.