While online grocery shopping continued to grow last year, where people shopped shifted significantly according to a new report from grocery researcher Brick Meets Click.
The new report, which details the egrocery performance for different retail formats, said Walmart was the big winner in 2022 as more and more customers looked for ways to save a buck. According to the report, which broke down the four major formats as supermarkets, Walmart, Target, and Hard Discount (i.e. Aldi and Lidl), Walmart saw its share of online grocery shoppers grow in both low-income and high-income households.
According to Brick Meets Click, households making less than $50 thousand per year were 25% more likely to shop at Walmart than a supermarket, and Walmart’s total share of online grocery in this household category grew by 2.1% vs. a contraction of 1.5% for supermarket’s share. On the high end of the spectrum, Walmart gained ground in households making over $200 thousand annually, expanding its reach into this segment by 2.1%. In contrast, supermarkets saw their reach shrink by 1.2% in 2022 vs. the previous year.
The reason for the shift towards Walmart for both segments was persistent inflation. Lower-income households were driven by what the researcher terms “flight to value,” where they buy products priced via an “everyday low price” pricing model employed at Walmart and hard discounters such as Aldi. And while high-end income households are three times more likely to shop online at a supermarket, the format lost share to Walmart in 2022 as upper-income earners also looked for ways to save on groceries.
As for Target, the retailer also saw its share of high-income households expand in 2022, which also contributed slightly to the decline of overall online share for the supermarket segment. In addition, the Minnesota-based retailer also continued to attract younger shoppers relative to the supermarket segment, as young households (18-29 years old) are 36% more likely to shop online at Target vs. a supermarket.
The report does not detail where Amazon fits in all of this. According to The Street, Amazon’s total share of physical store grocery spend was about 2% of total grocery sales at about $17.5 billion in 2021. That compares with Target’s $20.3 billion in food and beverage sales in the same year.
As for how households are getting their groceries, over half of the monthly active online shoppers (52.2%) picked up groceries via curbside or in-store pickup in March of this year, according to a separate report by the researcher. Ship to home, which usually means dry goods and shelf-stable products, dropped from 47.5% of monthly online grocery shoppers in March 2022 to 40.9% in March 2023, while grocery delivery (which usually includes fresh produce, dairy, and meat) grew from 40.8% in March of last year to 41.5% this March.
Despite the growth of the online grocery category, the researcher says that in-store is still the dominant form of grocery shopping. In a report released earlier this year, the total share of online grocery shopping accounted for just over a tenth (11.2%) of all grocery spending at the end of last year and is expected to grow to 13.6% by the end of 2027.