Huge jump in grocery e-commerce market predicted to sustain post-pandemic

Survey reveals 68% of consumers are having groceries delivered, and that 81% of these shoppers will continue to do so post-pandemic

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Online market Good Eggs has announced the results of its national consumer survey ‘Online Grocery Shopping During COVID-19’,

Though people are shopping online for groceries from multiple stores, Walmart came out on top with 56% of consumers choosing to purchase with them. Amazon Prime/Whole Foods came in second with 50%, and Instacart and regional traditional grocery stores with their own delivery service (Safeway, Wegmans etc.) tie for third with 23%.

Availability and convenience are king currently, trumping consumers ethical desires. Although employee treatment (pay, benefits, safety) is the most important value reported by consumers when choosing an online grocery company, Amazon/Whole Foods ranks lowest with poor reputation in its treatment of essential employees during the pandemic, with Walmart following as the second worst, yet both remain the top choices for the majority of consumers.

While the frequency of food shopping has not been impacted by COVID-19, other grocery shopping habits have changed. The survey found that since March 2020, 68% of people have bought groceries online for delivery, with 43% buying these twice or more each month. Alongside this, 71% of people are also still buying groceries in store, 47% are ordering them for curb-side pickup, and 17% are supplementing with meal kits.

Additionally, 60% of people are spending more on groceries now than before COVID-19, with 24% spending significantly more. People are buying more snack foods (44% of those asked), pantry staples (39%) and produce, baking ingredients, lunch food/ingredients and eggs (all at 30%). This is the opposite for prepared foods. 75% of people say their eating and cooking habits have changed since the pandemic began. From this group, 46% say they are cooking much more, 29% say they are doing more meal planning, and 22% are doing more bulk cooking.

Though this may be an adjustment, the benefits of online shopping appear to outweigh the negatives. Those surveyed say the number one benefit, aside from reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19 is time-saving (70%). Fifty-one percent say it helps them to reduce impulse purchases, and 42% say it makes it easy for them to reorder the same foods regularly. On the other side of the coin, people still miss elements of in-store shopping, including discovering items that weren’t on their lists (62%), touching and selecting their own produce (53%) and the ability to quickly pick up just one or two items (42%). They also noted the downsides of shopping online, including the lack of available items and difficulty finding the items they want (45%), getting poor quality foods they would not having picked themselves (41%) and receiving the wrong item, or the item being missing from their orders (39%).

Nearly half of those surveyed also revealed that they or one of the family members they live with are considered high-risk for contracting COVID-19. They are therefore also taking further precautions in addition to having their groceries delivered online – including 47% of respondents more diligently washing fruits and vegetables, 41% wiping down every item and 40% waiting for the delivery person to leave before getting their groceries. Of these delivery people, the respondents also noted that only 32% were wearing PPE all the time.

With the holidays approaching, 25% of respondents say they will use grocery delivery to buy everything needed for holiday meals, rising to 34% of those who shop online twice a month or more.

After the pandemic is over, 81% of those who have ordered groceries online for delivery say they will continue to do so, with 43% still doing so but not as often, and 38% ordering them just as often as they are now.

"Two things are clear - the shift to online grocery has accelerated, and too many customers are still forced to make compromises and settle when feeding their families," said Bentley Hall, CEO of Good Eggs. "There is an enormous market opportunity for companies like Good Eggs who can deliver convenience, peak quality, and have authentic values. Customers are eager to move beyond the services that appear to be increasingly indifferent about their people and the integrity of their food."

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