It seems obvious that mandated sheltering in place because of a global pandemic has been a big driver of online grocery sales. But thanks to a new survey from Coresight Research, we now have some numbers to back that obvious assertion up, and show how big grocery e-commerce is getting.
In its US Online Grocery Survey 2020 (subscription required), Coresight predicted that the online grocery sector will grow by roughly 40 percent this year. The report states “That would equate to almost $38 billion of online food and beverage sales in 2020, or around 3.5% of the total market.” That’s up from 2.6 percent in 2019.
As you can probably guess, the coronavirus has spurred this surge in e-commerce. Coresight’s survey found that 49 percent of respondents said they started buying or were buying more groceries online because of the outbreak. It should be noted that this survey was conducted in mid-March, relatively early on in the mandated shelter in place orders. Those numbers may have actually gone up in April as the virus continued to spread.
In addition to more people buying groceries online, people are buying more types of items (produce, meat, alcohol) online. Coresight found that people are buying across an average of five different grocery categories online, up from 4.4 categories last year. Coresight says this indicates people aren’t just buying one-offs, but doing full-basket shopping online.
And finally, it looks as though demand for online commerce could remain strong over the next year. Coresight found that while 52 percent of respondents said that they had bought online groceries in the past 12 months, 62.5 percent expect to do so in the next twelve months.
Coresight’s numbers add to a growing body of market research that illustrate just how online grocery shopping has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, Brick Meets Click reported that grocery e-commerce sales hit $5.3 billion in April. NPD Group found that third-party grocery delivery sales jumped nearly 300 percent in April alone. And last month, a C+R Research study found that 60 percent of US shoppers were “fearful” of physically going into the grocery store.
Grocery stores have been considered essential since the start of this pandemic, so they have remained open the entire time (thank you, grocery store workers!). But even though some states are relaxing their stay at home restrictions, grocery stores are implementing new measures to help curb the spread of the virus. Going forward, grocery shopping isn’t going to be what it was just a few months ago. Plexiglass shields at checkout, fewer people in the stores, masks worn by employees and customers. The in-store experience may just make shopping at home online more attractive.