U.S. online grocery sales surge 37% in April

21 May 2020

April was another record-breaking month for online grocery sales with shoppers surpassing March’s record-breaking $4 billion in sales to spend $5.3 billion for grocery delivery and pickup. This is a 37% increase over March, according to data from Brick Meets Click and Symphony RetailAI.

Not only did the sales figures hit record-breaking levels, but the total number of orders in April increased by 33% bringing the number of U.S. households that are shopping for supermarket staples online to 40 million. On average, the size of the orders themselves ticked up 3% from $82 to $85 for the four weeks ending in March.

U.S. online grocery sales surge 37% in April

In total, 74% of those surveyed indicated that they had shopped online in the last 30 days. Compared to a Gallup poll from August 2019 that showed 81% of Americans never order groceries online, this represents a significant shift.

The survey conducted by Brick Meets Click notes these numbers of online grocery customers may rise even further. Just over a quarter of the households surveyed (26%) said they did not buy groceries online within the last 30 days but were “extremely or very likely” to shop online within the next three months.

A large part of the motivation contributing to this rise in online shopping behavior is due to the fear of contracting the coronavirus. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed had a “high level” of concern about the virus which contributed to the change in their shopping behavior. This reasoning is supported by a recent survey from C+R Research where 60% of respondents reported being “fearful” of purchasing their groceries at a brick and mortar location. s

However, the question remains whether this increase in online shopping will continue once the pandemic subsides. Prior to the pandemic, FMI and Nielsen estimated online food and beverage sales would hit $143 billion by 2025 and account for 30% of grocery spend, reported Grocery Dive. At that time, the research showed Gen Z shoppers spent 15% of their grocery budget online and Millennials spent 26% through e-commerce.

After quarantine orders were issued, the adoption of online grocery shopping escalated overnight and online retailers and third-party delivery apps struggled to keep up with demand. Even with the hiccups associated with this meteoric expansion though, experts cited in various publications including Business Insider and the Atlantic are predicting this phenomenon to accelerate the adoption of online grocery shopping for the long term.

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