Total grocery e-commerce sales in the U.S. hit $9.3 billion this past January, with nearly 70 million households placing an average of 2.8 orders across delivery, pickup and ship-to-home categories, according to a new Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey.
January’s $9.3 billion in sales is up 15 percent over November 2020, and Brick Meets Click credits a large part of this growth to a 16 percent increase in the number of households that buy groceries online.
Among the survey’s findings:
- Seventy-seven percent of all online grocery spending went to delivery and pickup.
- Seventy-eight percent of households engaged with a delivery or pickup service (up from 64 percent in November).
- Ship-to-home usage rate dropped from 56 percent to 46 percent during the same period.
- Despite growth in other areas, the overall usage rate in January fell short of the record 76.7 million households that shopped online in April 2020 (at the height of the pandemic’s first wave).
Pickup and delivery’s share of orders grew roughly six percent from November, accounting for 66 percent of all online orders completed during January 2021.
While online grocery saw a lot of gains over the past few months, the overall satisfaction metric (the likelihood of using a specific service again) with online grocery dropped to 56 percent, down 32 percentage point from the record high ratings level in November. Pickup had the biggest drop, losing 35 percentage points.
“Even though many grocers remain capacity constrained – especially with pickup – others are growing market share as they staff up or expand pickup to a larger store base,” David Bishop, partner, Brick Meets Click said in today’s press announcement. “While throwing more labor at the issue isn’t ideal, this, along with improving assembling productivities via enhanced pick and pack practices, is vital to remaining competitive in the near term and not inadvertently giving your customer a reason to shop elsewhere.”
As a grocery industry watcher, it’s always fun when these types of market numbers come out to see if and how people are adopting online grocery. But these numbers are also important because grocer retailers are currently investing a lot of money in systems and infrastructure to fulfill online grocery orders. Ahold Delhaize and Walmart recently announced expanded automated fulfillment centers for their stores, and Kroger will start opening its automated customer fulfillment centers this year.
As vaccines arrive and the pandemic recedes (knocks on wood), the question will be how much people’s habits have changed thanks to COVID, and for how many online grocery shopping will become the new normal.