Online grocery sales fell to $8 billion in February, dropping 14 percent from January’s $9.3 billion, according to new data released today from the latest Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey.
Brick Meets Click said the biggest factor in February’s decline was that fewer households bought groceries online. Monthly active users fell to 60.1 million in February, a 12 percent decrease from the 69.7 million in January. A lot of that drop off came from people over 60 years old, which could be a result of increased vaccinations in that age group. As more people get vaccinated, there will be more confidence in going out and into stores in-person.
In addition to fewer households placing orders, there were also just fewer orders in general. Online grocery shoppers averaged 2.7 orders in February, down 6 percent compared with 2.8 orders in January. However, Brick Meets Click said that most of this decline was in the ship-to-home segment. The combined delivery and pickup segment was only down 4 percent from January to February.
One bit of good news is that there was a four percent increase in average order value in February. Online grocery shopping households spent an average of $82 in February on orders received via delivery or pickup (that’s 55 percent more than orders placed for ship-to-home service).
Speaking of delivery and pickup, that segment nabbed $6.1 billion in February, gobbling up more than three-quarters of the total online grocery market for the month. Within that, curbside pickup accounted for nearly half of all online grocery sales in February.
Brick Meets Click’s latest data comes on the heels of a blockbuster quarter for online grocery related funding. Grocery-related startups around the world have been pulling in millions for faster delivery, e-commerce transition and market expansion. Is all this new money for naught as vaccines continue to roll out, freeing up people to leave their homes to shop in-person?
Not necessarily. Industry analysts have been expecting this type of market correction since last year. However, online grocery is projected to grow and eventually reach $250 billion, taking up 21.5 percent of total grocery sales by 2025.
The more immediate question for investors and even retailers pouring money into e-commerce solutions is whether to focus on delivery or curbside pickup. The data from February shows a preference for pickup, but we’ve seen retailers like Walmart and Albertsons devote more resources to both automated curbside pickup and faster delivery.
Brick Meets Click’s data for the next few months will certainly be fascinating to watch, not just from an industry perspective, but also a sociological one. After a year of lockdowns, what new grocery shopping habits will remain permanent, and what will that mean for innovation at retail overall?