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Online Grocery Sales Closed in on $98B in ‘21

Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Shopping Survey also shows solidification of pickup trends
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
BMC data dec 2021

Some numbers for online grocery sales in the U.S. have been tallied, and point to a bigger, broader embrace of digital shopping. According to the latest Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Shopping Survey, online grocery sales hit $97.7 billion in 2021 and online grocery shopping grew 2% to comprise almost 13% of total grocery spending for the year. More than 70% of U.S. households received one or more orders during the year, the findings show.

A strong December was built on momentum during what turned out to be another interesting and turbulent year in the early part of the new decade. The survey indicated that the online grocery market racked up $8.9 billion in sales last month, a traditionally robust month for grocery sales.

New research from Brick Meets Click/Mercatus also revealed more defined behaviors as the pandemic era dragged on. For example, the survey found that the pickup segment rose 5% to a 45% share of online sales in 2021, while delivery stayed pretty much the same at 33% and ship- to-home sales dipped five percentage points to 22%.

The mass channel is also gaining steam among shoppers. In December alone, the share of monthly active grocery users who also placed at least one online order with a mass retailer climbed to 29.1%, a high for that particular shopper metric.

“If retailers are surprised by these results, it’s likely because they are missing a broader view of how and where customers are shopping online for groceries,” said David Bishop, partner at the Barrington, Ill.-based Brick Meets Click. “Even before the pandemic started, pickup was preferred over delivery. Then in April 2020, pickup took the top spot away from ship-to-home, and it’s kept that spot ever since.”

Added Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Mercatus: “The state of online grocery in the U.S. today underscores not only the need for grocers to compete online for sales, but also the imperative to develop and implement more sound strategies that improve profitability as sales growth becomes more challenging. In this regard, putting customer satisfaction at the center of the shopping experience is paramount and requires implementing an operational process that is not only efficient for the retailer but also caters to customers’ demand for quality and convenience.”

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