What goes up must come down, especially, in this case, when people feel safe enough to go out. New survey data from Brick Meets Click/Mercatus shows that U.S. grocery delivery and pickup sales for August dropped to $5.7 billion, down from June’s record high of $7.2 billion.
This pullback in online grocery isn’t a huge surprise. Between March and June of this year, online grocery shopping had seen one record month after another, but that growth was artificially inflated, fueled by the pandemic.
According to Brick Meets Click, the fall in online grocery dollars correlates with increased ease about COVID-19, with 38 percent of U.S. households expressing high levels of concern about the virus in August versus the high of 47 percent in April.
“There is a common belief that the rapid and dramatic surge in sales caused by COVID-19, starting in mid-March, would recede at some point as stay-at-home orders and in-store shopping restrictions like occupancy limits, shortened hours and one-way aisles were relaxed,” David Bishop, a partner at Brick Meets Click, said in a press release announcing the August results. “While the August results reflect a retrenchment of sorts, the market appears positioned to begin a new growth cycle with a large base of committed shoppers.”
This larger base is actually good news for those investing in online grocery services. Brick Meets Click said that roughly 37.5 million, or 29 percent of all U.S. households, are monthly active users of grocery delivery and pickup. That’s an increase of 133 percent over August of 2019, when that number was just 16.1 million.
August wasn’t without its own record setting, however. Brick Meets Click found that spending per order hit a record $95 in August, up 32 over a year ago. Active shoppers placed 1.6 orders per month versus 1.0 orders during the same time last year.
Additionally, more people are developing new online grocery shopping habits. According to the survey, 75 percent of customers said they are “extremely or very likely” to online grocery shop through their retailer again within the next 30 days. This desire to continue shopping online, said Brick Meets Click, was likely because of improved online shopping experiences.
Considering that people have been living under pandemic conditions for half a year (!) now, new habits have definitely set in. One thing to look for is the change in the weather. Now that people have experienced online grocery shopping, will they return to it when the weather outside is frightful (and delivery and pickup can be so delightful)?