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Online grocery sales rise 5% in October

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U.S. online grocery sales in October saw solid growth compared to the same period last year.

According to the latest Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey, online grocery sales were $8.2 billion in October, an increase of 5.0% year-over-year (YoY). The figures follow September sales of $7.5 billion, which was a decrease both compared to August of this year and September 2022.

The October survey showed that the mass channel saw the most success, with monthly active user (MAU) base, average order value (AOV), and order frequency all increasing YoY. Mass MAU base grew 29% on a year-over-year basis, showcasing the continued “flight-to-value” behavior which has been seen for the last several months. Grocery’s MAU base grew 6% versus 2022.

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October online grocery sales
October online grocery sales

The over-60 age group was the largest contributor to the MAU growth for both mass and grocery in October. Pickup expanded its MAU base the most, rising 6%, compared to 2% for delivery, while ship-to-home’s MAU shrank by 6%.

“The mass format, and particularly Walmart, continues to attract a larger share of MAUs as U.S. households search for ways to save money,” said David Bishop, Partner at Brick Meets Click. “The share of MAUs who bought from Mass has grown over 11 percentage points since last year, finishing at more than 50% this October.”

The total number of online grocery orders placed during October fell by about 3% versus last year, brought down by a decrease in ship-to-home volume and a more modest dip in pickup orders. The topline AOV rose nearly 9% versus October of last year as spending per order climbed across all three receiving methods. Delivery’s AOV posted a 10% increase, pickup increased by 6%, and ship-to-home increased by 5%.

In October, the percentage of customers who bought groceries online from both grocery and mass during the month set a record high, rising 680 basis points compared to last year. Over 34% of grocery’s MAU base also shopped for groceries online with a mass retailer.

Delivery expanded its sales share by 260 bps in October to 40.0%, which the survey credits to its stronger gain in AOV during the month. Pickup contracted 130 bps to 42.7% and Ship-to-Home shrank 140 bps to 17.3% on a year-over-year basis.

Online sales across all formats accounted for 12.5% of total weekly grocery spending during the last week of October, increasing 90 bps versus last year. The combined contribution of pickup and delivery, since most conventional supermarkets don’t offer ship-to-home, also grew 90 bps to finish the month at 10.3%.

“As today’s regional grocers focus on improving operational aspects of their online grocery services, they continue to face stiff headwinds from economic and competitive pressures,” said Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Mercatus. “To mitigate these challenges, grocers should identify ways to differentiate their online shopping experience, such as highlighting private label products, amplifying personalization efforts, and/or offering unique rewards and promotions that include product sampling.”

Brick Meets Click conducted the survey on Oct. 30-31, 2023, with 1,790 adults, 18 years and older, who participated in the household’s grocery shopping.

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