New survey shows supermarket shoppers are opting for virtual carts

Survey shows that over 50% are buying their groceries online, but panic purchasing is slowing

A new survey from Oracle Grocery Retail, polling over 1,000 US consumers, shows that 53% of respondents in the US have shopped online for groceries during the pandemic, with 37% stocking up more frequently online than in-store, putting pressure on grocers to fulfil this demand.

The survey displayed clearly the need for home delivery, with the vast majority of consumers opting for this choice. 73% have groceries delivered to their home, whilst just 13% pick them up in store, and 15% collecting their groceries curb-side.

According to the results, few are planning to turn back post-pandemic, with 93% saying they still plan to buy their groceries online, and 74% looking to order groceries the same amount, or more, than they are doing currently.

Due to the grocery shortages during the pandemic, 86% of shoppers have explored store owned brand and private label alternatives, and some have no plans to return to their old favourites. In fact, 30% intend to stick with the store brands, 34% intending to shop a mix of new finds and preferred brands, and just 20% heading back to the preferred brands.

It seems the panic buying at the beginning of the pandemic has also slowed down, with just 28% of those polled planning to stockpile household and pantry staples. Of these, 69% were still planning on stockpiling toilet paper and cleaning products, 54% canned fruits and vegetables, 50% meat, 48% soup and pasta, and 46% rice.

The survey also showed that, although Gen X leads the way in online-grocery ordering, a significant percentage of all age groups surveyed have ordered groceries online during the pandemic. Seventy-two percent of Gen X (40-54) are opting for online shopping, with a significant share of Gen Z (18-24) and Millennials (25-39) also choosing to buy online, at 61% and 60%, respectively.

Boomers (55+) had a lower, but still not insignificant percentage, with 30% opting to buy their groceries online. This was a 173% increase in those who had ordered groceries during versus before the pandemic.

Those with kids were also more than twice as likely to order groceries online (82%) versus those without children (36%).

More shoppers were also heading to meal subscription boxes, with 22% already having a food or meal subscription, which they continued, 10% having one subscription and adding another, and 4% starting a new subscription for the first time.

"Online grocery ordering is not new, but the pandemic was the tipping point to take it mainstream," said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Retail. "Grocery retailers were left grappling with both supply chain issues and consumer behaviour that was anything but normal - causing chaos and shortages. While stores navigated relatively quickly, the data shows that consumers have no plans to return to their old ways. Grocers need to examine what that means for their operations, store layouts, and everything in-between as we all move forward."

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