Online Grocery Sales Dip for First Time Since COVID-19

According to the most recent Brick Meets Click + Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey, grocery e-commerce orders for pickup and delivery have finally hit a decline after four months of continuous growth in response to fear of in-store shopping due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The August 2020 e-commerce grocery sales totaled $5.7 billion, an approximate 20% drop compared to June of 2020. According to the survey, 37.5 million U.S. households are considered monthly active users of online grocery services. 

“There is a common belief that the rapid and dramatic surge in sales caused by COVID-19, starting in mid-March, would recede at some point as stay-at-home orders and in-store shopping restrictions like occupancy limits, shortened hours and one-way aisles were relaxed,” said David Bishop, partner at Brick Meets Click. “While the August results reflect a retrenchment of sorts, the market appears positioned to begin a new growth cycle with a large base of committed shoppers.”

Research from the survey concluded that the decline in online sales is due to households expressing a lower level of concern about in-store shopping and contracting the virus, dropping from 47% in April down to 38% in August. Additionally, 75% of individuals surveyed reported that they were extremely or very likely to use their most recent online grocery service provider again in the next 30 days, citing improved retail conditions resulting in more positive shopping experiences. 

“Even with diminished concern about COVID-19, grocery shoppers are realizing the benefits of a streamlined and frictionless online shopping experience. Going forward, it’s critical that grocery executives focus their teams on rewarding online shoppers by delivering a differentiated eCommerce experience that caters to consumers’ high expectations”, said president and CEO of Mercatus Sylvain Perrier. 

While online sales have started to decline, the numbers are still dramatically higher than last year’s numbers when sales totalled closer to $1.2 billion and the number of households using online grocery shopping technology was at 16.1 million. 

Compared to this time last year, online grocery consumers are spending more per order in 2020 compared to 2019. The average amount spent rose to $95 in August of 2020, 32% higher than the average of $64 in 2019. The number of orders per month nearly doubled, measuring at 1 order per month in 2019 and 1.9 orders per month in 2020.