Grocery shoppers have embraced online shopping since the outbreak of COVID-19.
In early 2020, 14.5% of grocery spending was online, a significant increase over the previous year, according to the Food Industry Association’s annual U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report. But COVID-19 greatly accelerated the move, with online spending doubling to 27.9% of all grocery spending during March and April.
Many shoppers are new to online grocery shopping and have been willing to break previous barriers, including 12% reporting purchasing fresh produce online for the first time.
Prior to the pandemic, U.S. grocery shopper trends were following a familiar pattern. Weekly household trips to the grocery store remained high, at 2.7 trips per week, and shoppers continued to utilize several different channels (4.1) and banners (5.0) to meet their monthly grocery needs. In the early weeks of COVID-19, weekly trips to the grocery store by households increased to 3.6. And 40% of shoppers reported they were shopping fewer stores for their household grocery needs.
“In looking toward the future, most consumers expect to return to their pre-pandemic levels of in-store grocery shopping and more than a fourth of consumers expect to be ordering more groceries online in the future,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI. “Whatever comes next, we know the supply chain is tremendously resilient and that we can flex, pivot and accommodate the demands of the nation’s grocery shoppers.”
In other findings, nearly all families (87%) report eating together as important and the COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified this value. Some younger shoppers, namely 48% of Gen Z and millennials said they are eating healthier during the pandemic.
Forty-one percent of shoppers surveyed report cooking more, and 42% are minimizing trips to the store or using perishables before they spoil. Before the pandemic, nearly all (90%) grocery shoppers reported dining out sometimes, but during March and April only 45% of shoppers reported utilizing restaurant delivery. Thirty-five percent reported cooking at home six to seven days a week.