Results of a new survey from Coresight Research (registration required) released today show that as grocery e-commerce continues to trend up, thanks to the pandemic, Walmart has overtaken Amazon as the leading retailer and online grocery shopping appears to be the new normal for many consumers.
Coresight has been conducting weekly surveys of US consumers since mid-March and today’s results are from a survey done on August 19th. In this latest survey, Coresight found that 60 percent of respondent had bought groceries online in the past 12 months, up from 52 percent back in March.
Coresight also found that Walmart became the leading retailer for online grocery shoppers, surpassing Amazon. In August 56 percent of the online grocery shoppers had bought from Walmart, up from 52 percent back in March. Amazon saw a decline in Coresight’s study, with 55 percent of online grocery shoppers indicating they bought from there, down from 63 percent in March.
Now that we are six months into this pandemic it seems like people are getting habituated into buying their groceries online. Coresight’s survey found that 36 percent of online grocery shoppers “plan to retain their current online purchasing frequency one the pandemic eases or ends.”
These findings aren’t too surprising. Other research firms have shown month-over-month record numbers of online grocery shopping since the pandemic hit the U.S.. But Coresight’s surveys help add to this body of research and round out the picture of how consumers are changing habits as the pandemic continues.
What is worth studying more is the Walmart v. Amazon rivalry. All grocery retailers struggled under the sudden crush of new customers when the pandemic first hit. Amazon, which saw its grocery business triple year-over-year thanks to COVID, actually had to implement a waitlist for new delivery customers. Coresight surmised from its data that Amazon grew its sales through bigger baskets from existing customers, while Walmart may have been able to attract more customers.
Anecdotally, this fits with my own grocery experience. As delivery windows were hard to come buy during that initial e-commerce wave, Walmart, with its massive network of real-world stores was still able to fulfill my online grocery orders through curbside pickup.
And as Coresight points out, I’m not alone in finding online grocery shopping to be the new normal. Grocers have ironed out many of the early issues that plagued grocery e-commerce and with six months of shopping for groceries online now under their belt, people may have had enough time to establish new food buying habits.
Earlier this year, Coresight predicted that the online grocery sector would grow by 40 percent in 2020 to hit $38 billion in sales. I wonder if they will have to adjust that number as this new data comes in. Additionally, the grocery landscape continues to change. Not only is Amazon adding real world supermarkets to its arsenal of shopping options, but Walmart is expected to launch its new Walmart+ delivery service soon (and has since added Instacart as a grocery delivery partner), and new third-party players like Uber and DoorDash are now getting into the grocery delivery space.