How Popular is Online Grocery Shopping?

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Online grocery shopping is exploding like a can of soda left out in freezing temperatures. Doorsteps all across the country are seeing an increase in deliveries of seasonal veggies, canned goods, frozen treats, and fresh meats. 

Just how big is the online grocery shopping eruption? In 2020, $106 billion dollars were spent in the market. That’s up from $34.5 billion in 2019, according to a new study by grocery e-commerce specialist Mercatus and research firm Incisiv projects. That same study is predicting a 21.5% increase of total U.S. grocery sales by 2025, and a 60% increase “over pre-coronavirus pandemic dollar sales estimates for the online grocery space.” 

Exploding is right!

So who is driving all this growth?

It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that younger shoppers are early adopters of online grocery shopping. When it comes to primarily buying their food supplies via the internet, Millennials said they do it 45% of the time and members of Gen Z do it 45% of the time.

A survey by Kibo, a leader in unified commerce, found that the main impediment to adopting online grocery for these young shoppers is the lacking technology. If stores can improve their websites and the consumer’s experience, almost 50% percent of these youth groups noted they would be “quite likely” to decrease shopping in stores, and almost 30% would definitely halt their in-store shopping completely.  

DeliverySafe Protects Your Package and Food Deliveries from Theft, Weather, and Spoilage

These two generations aren’t the only Americans taking advantage of this recent trend. In fact, almost three quarters of those surveyed by PowerReviews, a consumer marketing technology firm, said they’d used online grocery shopping within the last three months, an increase of 56% when compared to 2017.  

Even baby boomers, a demographic not known for being tech-savvy, are getting in on the act. Need proof? A Washington Post article reported that Instacart customers in the 60+ age bracket order food 25% more often than younger customers. The article also mentioned that 25% of Thrive Market shoppers are now 65+.

So why are people changing their shopping habits?

The PowerReviews survey found these to be the top reasons people decided to grocery shop the virtual way instead of going to the store:

  • Time savings (59%)
  • Personal safety (49%) 
  • Avoiding impulse purchases (31%)
  • Ease of comparing products and prices (24%) 
  • Ease of access to product information including reviews (22%) 
  • Difficulty getting to a grocery store (20%)

All of these reasons have a similar quality -- convenience. In fact, the only thing that isn’t convenient about online grocery shopping is the delivery aspect--having to wait around for the food to get there so it can be refrigerated immediately or, because you are busy or at work, having to leave it sitting on the porch where it can get stolen or go bad.

So where are people shopping?

Just as young and old are taking the online grocery plunge, the stores that these shoppers are using also demonstrate a cross section of retailers. For instance, a survey on customer online grocery buying habits during the pandemic in 2020 by Good Eggs found the following results as to where customers buy their food over the internet:

  • 56% Walmart
  • 50% Amazon Prime or Whole Foods.
  • 23% Instacart
  • 23% Regional traditional grocery stores

The same survey found that almost 70% of respondents were getting their food delivered to their homes while almost 50% were doing curbside pickup. They also learned that over 80% of those surveyed will keep doing online delivery post-pandemic.  

So what are people buying?

The 2020 U.S. Online Grocery Survey asked just this question and these were the results: 

  • Packaged non-fresh food (68.5%) 
  • Toiletries, personal care and diapers (63.1%) 
  • Household cleaning and paper products (60.8%) 
  • Frozen food (41.9%) 
  • Bread and baked goods (41.7%) 
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables (39.1%) 
  • Fresh dairy, meat, fish and eggs (38.9%)
  • Cold non-alcoholic beverages excluding coffee, tea or cocoa (30.7%)
  • Chilled prepared foods (26.4%) 
  • Alcoholic beverages (12.5%)

It probably comes as no surprise that non-perishables lead the way. After all, if food is getting dropped off at the front door at random times when someone may or may not be home it makes sense not to want items that can go bad just sitting out in the heat or cold.

But it is interesting that high up on this list are frozen foods, fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh dairy, meat, fish and eggs. These products can all spoil or melt quickly if they go unrefrigerated for short periods of time. If that happens, it would be a waste of not only food but money -- lots of money considering the high rate at which shoppers are using online grocery shopping.

Because of this, with the increasing use of home delivery of food what’s also increased is the use of delivery lock boxes that can protect consumer’s perishable purchases. These products provide the last step in the convenience aspect of online food purchasing. The key is pick out a secure package box like the DeliverySafe, which is not only lockable but also features an insulated interior and optional slide-in ice packs to keep food fresh until it can be brought inside and put in the fridge.


DeliverySafe's Lockable Package Delivery Box is the Modern Mailbox

The Watchguard for Your Deliveries

Follow us for important news and trends around online shopping and delivery of packages, meal kits and groceries. We’re here to help keep your deliveries safe and fresh.

The Watchguard for Your Deliveries

Follow us for important news and trends around online shopping and package delivery.