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Survey reveals five key consumer grocery trends

Blue Yonder data reveals the direction of grocery retailing in several important areas.

A new survey from Blue Yonder uncovers how consumers feel about aspects of grocery retail such as in-store shopping and brand loyalty.

To help uncover the latest consumer trends for grocery shopping in 2021, Blue Yonder surveyed over 1,000 U.S. consumers between Oct. 4-5, 2021, to explore their shopping preferences, the effect of product shortages on their customer experience, and their plans for holiday grocery shopping.

Following are statistics relating to five important trends Blue Yonder discovered.

Touching and seeing items are the biggest motivators for in-store grocery shopping.

  • Seven in 10 respondents prefer to shop in-store for groceries. This is up 11% from 63% in an October 2020 Blue Yonder survey.
  • More than six in 10 (62%) consumers said they shop for groceries in-store, as opposed to online, because they want to physically see, touch, and personally select the fresh food that they buy.
  • Only 7% of respondents said they prefer to use grocery delivery services, down 50% from 14% in October 2020; while 21% prefer to buy online and pickup curbside or in-store, relatively flat (22%) from 2020.
  • Nearly half (47%) of respondents have not used grocery delivery services in the last six months.

Brand loyalty took a serious hit in 2021.

  • More than three in 10 (31%) consumers say they switched their primary destination grocer in the past year. Of those that switched, 58% plan to stay with their new grocer for the next three months.
  • Additionally, 32% of respondents are buying store brand products because they were available during the pandemic and are similar in quality to branded products, up 33% from 24% in 2020.

The labor shortage is impacting in-store assistance.

  • Forty-six percent of respondents (46%) said that grocery store associates were less available during the pandemic.
  • Of that respondent group, about four in 10 (39%) said this associate shortage impacted their ability to find an item or request assistance.

Consumers are planning for larger holiday gatherings.

  • More than half (56%) of respondents plan to host and grocery shop for a holiday celebration (Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, etc.) this year, a 19% increase from 47% in October 2020.
  • Fifty-five percent of respondents are preparing for a medium-sized (six to 10 guests) holiday gathering in 2021, up 14% from 48% in 2020. Of those hosting, 45% said this is the same number of guests as last year, and 24% are preparing for a larger gathering this year.
  • Seven in 10 respondents who will grocery shop for the holidays this year plan to do so in-store. While 24% plan to use buy online pickup curbside or in-store services, only 6% will use a delivery service.

Interestingly, the July 2021 Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey showed a growing preference for in-store pickup among online grocery shoppers. During June 2021, the study showed that monthly active users placed an average of 2.7 online orders, down 6% from 2.89 orders one year earlier. However, the share of orders received via pickup grew nearly 20% on a year-over-year basis, capturing 42% of total order share.

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