Study: Pickup gains popularity with online grocery shoppers

While total U.S. online grocery sales are contracting, a higher share are being fulfilled via physical pickup services.

According to the February 2021 Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey, total U.S. grocery online grocery sales pulled back to $8 billion for February, a 14% drop from $9.3 billion in January, as fewer households went online for groceries and placed a slightly lower number of orders month-over-month.

However, the delivery/pickup segment captured $6.1 billion in sales during February, accounting for more than three-quarters of total online grocery sales for the month. In particular, pickup (including in-store, curbside, lockers and drive-up) represented about 50% of online grocery sales and an approximately 40% share of online grocery orders.

The study revealed the following statistics on declining sales and order volumes:

•    Monthly active online grocery users dropped 12%, from 69.7 million in January to 60.1 million in February. Over 40% of this reduction came from the over-60 age group.
•    Online grocery shoppers placed an average of 2.7 orders during February, a 6% drop from January’s 2.8 orders. Most of the drop is attributable to the ship-to-home segment, which had a 12% decrease in order frequency.
•    The combined delivery/pickup segments were only down 4% on a month-over-month basis.

Despite lower overall sales and order volumes, the average order value (AOV) for online grocery purchases actually rose 4% month-over-month. Brick Meets Click attributes this increase to the share mix shifting toward the pickup/delivery segment, which typically involves larger orders. Households spent an average of $82 in February for orders received via delivery or pickup, which is 55% larger than orders shipped-to-home.

Each of the ship-to-home and delivery/pickup segments also had respective month-over-month increases. The AOV for ship-to-home orders jumped nearly 11%, while the AOV for pickup orders grew just over 1%.

February’s overall satisfaction level with delivery and pickup of online grocer orders stabilized, as 58% of households reported being extremely/very likely to place another order with the same delivery or pickup service within the next 30 days.

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