Online U.S. grocery sales top $8 billion in November  

Marianne Wilson
Marianne Wilson profile picture
Grocery bag of veggies

Online grocery sales continued to maintain momentum in November as sales shift toward delivery and pick-up services

The total U.S. online grocery market posted $8.1 billion in sales during November as 60.1 million U.S. households placed on average 2.8 orders during the month, according to the Bricks Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey. Online grocery sales have remained above the $8 billion level since May. 

Grocery delivery and pick-up services captured 73% of the total online grocery spend in November, and generated sales of $5.9 billion. (The remaining $2 billion-plus reflects online purchases that households receive via the ship-to-home method, including orders from providers such as Amazon’s marketplace, Blue Apron, and the like that ship via UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc..)

The growth in delivery and pickup orders was fueled by increases in the number of households who used delivery or pickup in the past 30 days and by higher order frequency. Comparing November to August 2020, the number of monthly active users grew about 3% to 38.7 million households while the average number of orders that these users placed increased 2% to 1.62 per month.

One leading indicator, “likelihood to use a specific service again,” recorded a new high score showing customer satisfaction. For November, 83% of the monthly active users of delivery or pick-up indicated that they are extremely or very likely to use the most recent service again within the next 30 days. The metric was up eight points versus August 2020 and up 40 points versus the record low posted in March 2020 when the initial surge in demand degraded the shopping experience, according to the report.

Although this strong positive score reflects improvements in the overall shopping experience, the research revealed how a declining share of first-time customers – 17% during November, down from 23% in August 2020 – is also helping to increase these scores. The research showed that the probability that a first-time customer will use a service again is 59% as compared to 94% for those who placed four or more orders, so it’s clear that the indicator is being aided by a more experienced mix of shoppers.

“Now that we’re months into the pandemic, we’re seeing online grocery shopping becoming engrained among U.S. consumers,” said Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO, Mercatus. “This behavior change shifts the strategic conversation for grocers from acquisition to increasing conversion and retention by driving strong digital engagement. For grocery retailers, the question now becomes how best to provide a differentiated experience that maintains their newly acquired online customers. The answer lies in offering innovative digital solutions and a seamless, rich multi-channel experience.”