Why Most U.S. Shoppers Still Choose To Shop In-Store Versus Online

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of our everyday life, especially when it comes to willingly spending time around other people in public places. 

According to a survey by Bankrate.com, despite the pandemic, social distancing measures, and stay-at-home orders, 72% of individuals surveyed are still doing their grocery shopping in person as opposed to online. 

Of the remaining 28%, 24% of individuals cited using grocery delivery services like Instacart while the remaining 7% have cited signing up for meal-kit delivery services like Hello Fresh. 

Even in the middle of a pandemic, what is it about grocery shopping that makes shoppers want to brave the aisles instead of shopping from the comfort of their own home?

“I believe a lot of this has to do with the numerous problems people are experiencing with grocery delivery services,” said Ted Rossman, an analyst for Bankrate.com. According to the same study, 83% of individuals experienced some sort of delivery issue like out of stock items, high service fees, poor food quality, or a lack of available delivery times. 

“Anyone who has tried to go online and select a delivery slot knows that in many cases you’re waiting a couple weeks, if you can get one at all,” Steve Caine, a retail expert and partner for consulting firm Bain & Company said in a recent interview. 

Before COVID-19, an average of 3.5% of shoppers were doing their shopping online. As of August 2020, 48% of shoppers do some part of their grocery shopping online. 

Rossman also cited that “the grocery delivery market is experiencing a huge surge right now, but it could backfire if customers aren’t satisfied, and it’s a very competitive market that encompasses local services, national players, such as Instacart and Amazon and meal-kit providers.”

“There’s a narrow margin for error, because customers have lots of choices, during and especially after the pandemic.”