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05/18/2021

Online grocery sales continue soaring year-over-year in April

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture

Although the U.S. online grocery market contracted month-over-month in April 2021, it still showed significant growth from the prior year.

According to the latest Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey, U.S. online grocery sales totaled $8.4 billion in April 2021. This represents a 10% contraction from $9.3 billion in March 2021, but up 16% from April 2020.  

The study also found that 67.8 million U.S. households bought groceries online in April 2021, a 12% decline compared to the same month in 2020. However, this decline in shopper base was offset by more engagement, as April’s monthly active users placed more delivery and pickup orders, which accounted for 78% of the month’s total online grocery sales.

Monthly active users placed an average of 2.73 online orders during April 2021, up slightly from 2.68 orders a year earlier. Year-over-year, the share of orders received via the ship-to-home segment dropped nearly nine percentage points, with pickup and delivery gaining six and three percentage points, respectively.

A growing share of the monthly active user base relied on two or more methods (pickup, delivery, and/or ship-to-home) to receive online grocery orders during April 2021, continuing a trend that began at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Over 35% of monthly active users received orders via two or three different methods in April 2021, up almost three percentage points on a year-over-year basis and 20 percentage points higher than pre-pandemic August 2019 levels.

The average order value (AOV) of pickup, delivery, and ship-to-home orders during April 2021 dropped 6% from the prior year on an order-weighted basis. This drop was driven largely by a 7% decline in ship-to-home AOV. Pickup and delivery AOVs dipped 1% and under 3%, respectively but remained $8 (10%) above pre-COVID order values measured in August 2019.

The repeat intent rate, which measures the likelihood that a monthly active user will make another order within the next month with the same grocery service, jumped to 55% for April, up five percentage points year-over-year, but significantly below pre-pandemic intent. Among less satisfied users in April 2021, 11% are still searching for an acceptable alternative, as they are extremely or very likely to use another service in the next month.

“Online shopping has remained an attractive way to buy groceries for a sizable segment of the U.S.,” said David Bishop, partner, Brick Meets Click. “Last year, retailers were in a race to meet the dramatic surge in demand. This year, it’s about executing a sound and sustainable strategy, with the imperative squarely on improving integration and implementation.”

The Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey is an ongoing independent research initiative created and conducted by Brick Meets Click and sponsored by Mercatus. Brick Meets Click conducted the survey with 1,941 adults, 18 years and older, who participated in the household’s grocery shopping.