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E-Grocery Sales Surge Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

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Jun 20, 2020

Online grocery shopping experienced unprecedented sales growth in March and April this year due to the stay at home orders brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-grocery sales COVID-19

According to recent data released by Adobe's Digital Economy Index, e grocery stores recorded 110 percent boost in day revenues for March and April. The whole U.S. eCommerce grew by 49 percent compared to early March before states implemented shelter-in-place restrictions said the same report.

Another study conducted by research firm Symphony RetailAI and grocery consultant Brick Meets Click (BMC) revealed that online grocery revenues hit an all-time high in March. Another 37 percent increase in April then topped this.

Record $5.3 Billion Sales in April

According to survey data from BMC and Symphony RetailAI, e grocery sales in March reached a record high of $4 billion, with 46.9 million orders. This record was broken again in April as online grocery sales reached 62.5 million total orders.

The amount spent per order experienced moderate growth, and so did the volume of online grocery shoppers. The average order size was $82 and $85 for March and April, respectively. The growth in the number of online grocery delivery or pick up shoppers was less than 1 percent between March and April. There were around 39.5 million online grocery shoppers in March and 40 million in April.

There was also a slight increase in the number of times a consumer would shop for groceries online between March and April. Typically, an online consumer placed an average of 1.2 online orders for either delivery or pick up for March and 1.6 orders for April, the survey revealed.

Why Shoppers Preferred Ordering Groceries Via the Internet

BMC found that there are two factors affecting consumer's online grocery shopping behavior.

The first being, forty-seven percent of shoppers participating in an online study said they were worried about contracting the novel coronavirus.

Also, shoppers recently lost their incomes- 39 percent of respondents said they experienced a 25 percent or higher drop in their monthly income compared to January and February.

The BMC survey also revealed that 50 percent of the survey participants, all ages 18 years or older, said they would likely purchase from the same online grocery store more than the 47 percent recorded in March.

What is the Future of Online Grocery Shopping?

There are four ways the COVID-19 pandemic will affect eCommerce, particularly grocery stores.

Online shopping will increase - Consumers surveys show that the shift to online grocery purchasing will continue as long as the coronavirus remains a threat. In a survey conducted by consulting and research firm Retail Systems Research at the end of March, 90 percent of shoppers said they are hesitant to shop in brick-and-mortar stores while 45 percent find online shopping a necessity.

The slow economy will hurt sellers of discretionary products - With an economic recession, consumers will prioritize basic items like food, household staples, healthcare products, and pet supplies. Retailers of non-essential goods like apparels are suffering massive losses and have started laying off workers.

Mobile services and omnichannel are gaining traction - Many consumers are hesitant to enter stores, but brands that offer curbside pickup will have an advantage until a Covid-19 vaccine is available.

Rethinking Amazon - Many retailers said they are rethinking their strategies. This is in response to Amazon's move to focus on fulfilling orders for high priority goods by temporarily halting deliveries of non-essential items to the company's warehouses. The retail giant lifted those restrictions in early May. The company also has made a commitment to build the world's first vaccinated supply chain during an April earnings call.

Will online grocery shopping continue to grow in the next few months? Some experts say it remains unclear whether online grocery shopping will be higher than before the pandemic and can sustain the recent growth experienced during shelter-in-place. However, it is essential for retailers, particularly online grocery stores, to rethink their strategies to adjust to the new normal affecting consumer shopping behaviors.

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