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Consumers Bought Fewer Groceries Online This Spring

New survey shows year-over-year dip in e-commerce sales but continued overall interest in online options
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Consumers Bought Fewer Groceries Online This Spring
A new Brick Meets Click/Mercatus survey revealed consumer online shopping trends in May 2021.

New data confirms that it was a much different spring this year than in 2020. According to the latest Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey, the market for online grocery sales slid 16% from May 2020 to May 2021 with declines in monthly active orders, order frequency and average order value.

In line with other recent market data, the research shows that despite the decrease, consumers are still shopping online more than they did before the pandemic. Total online sales in May were three and a half times higher than they were in the same time frame in 2019.

“As the business laps very tough year-over-year comparisons, it is essential to put monthly performance into perspective and keep an eye on the big picture,” said David Bishop, partner at Barrington, Ill.-based Brick Meets Click. “May’s results show the market retains 70% of the incremental gains generated versus the record COVID high of $9.3 billion, illustrating that much of the gain propelled by the pandemic has stuck around.”

There has also been some shuffling in online buying behavior as the world opens up following mass vaccinations and waning COVID-19 cases. The new Brick Meets Click/Mercatus survey reveals that pickup is gaining in use, with 55% of monthly active online users choosing that service last month. Delivery grew only slightly, and ship-to-home methods decreased.

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