U.S. online grocery sales set another record in June. But the monthly rate of increase slowed compared with May, according to survey data from online grocery consultant Brick Meets Click (BMC) and grocery ecommerce platform Mercatus USA Inc.
According to the survey, U.S. online sales of groceries for delivery and pickup reached $7.2 billion in June, a 9% increase over May. BMC and Mercatus say 45.6 million U.S. households used online ordering to buy at least some of their groceries last month, up from 43.0 million in May. Also, order frequency grew from 1.9 orders per month per “active customer”—defined as those that bought groceries online over the previous 30 days—compared with 1.7 in May. Household penetration rose to 35%, up from 33% in May.
The survey also found that interest in receiving an online grocery order (via pickup or home delivery) increased slightly. 32.0% of all households (active online grocery shoppers or not) being extremely or very likely to use a service within the next 90 days, a boost of two percentage points from 30.0% in May.
Brick Meets Click conducted the online survey on June 24-25, 2020 with 1,781 adults, 18 years and older, who participated in the household’s grocery shopping. Results were adjusted based on internet use among U.S. adults to account for the non-response bias associated with online surveys. Responses were also weighted by age to reflect the national population of adults, 18 years and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
BMC says the increasing frequency of orders from active households shows online grocery buying continues to expand in a growing number of homes. But there’s a downside. The coronavirus pandemic caused many grocery shoppers to move online, but it has not made customers happier with grocery retailers’ ability to execute online sales.
The likelihood that a shopper will use a specific online grocery service again within the next 30 days was 57.0%, climbing less than one percentage point from May to June, the BMC/Mercatus survey found. By contrast, the likelihood to become a repeat buyer was 74.0% in August 2019—long before COVID-19—when the number of active online grocery shoppers stood at 16.1 million, BMC says.
Online grocery availability grows
One reason for the continued growth in online grocery shopping is that it’s more widely available now than before the pandemic, says David Bishop, partner and research lead, Brick Meets Click.
“Many grocery retailers have demonstrated amazing agility since the health crisis started, building surge capacity to better meet the astronomical growth in demand for shopping online,” Bishop says. “This increase in online grocery capacity has flipped the equation. Today, as shoppers have more choice, the increased capacity is now actually enabling the continued growth of online grocery.”
- In June, discount grocery chain Aldi U.S. announced plans to roll out curbside pickup at 600 stores by the end of July.
- Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. (owned by Dutch-Belgian retailer Ahold Delhaize, No. 6 in the Digital Commerce 360 Europe 500) plans to add 50 pickup locations from through the end of 2020. Launched in June 2019, the pickup service is currently available at 212 stores.
- In late June, Target Corp. (No. 12 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000) expanded its order pickup and drive-up services to include fresh and frozen grocery items at 400 stores. The plan is to make the service available to more than 1,500 stores in time for the 2020 holidays.
- Walmart (No. 3) has curbside pickup points at 3,300 of its 5,352 U.S. locations and offers same-day delivery from more than 1,850 stores. At year-end 2018, the retailer operated 2,100 pickup points and delivered from 800 stores.
Grocery stores have been open for business during the entire COVID-19 pandemic, but concern about catching the virus is helping to drive food shoppers to the web and out of stores, BMC says. In June, 44.0% of all households reported high levels of concern about someone in their households contracting COVID-19, according to the BMC/Mercatus survey.
The portion of households expressing high levels of concern was up two percentage points from the previous month. Since May, the increase was driven almost entirely by a 9.0% increase among shoppers in the over-60 age segment.