It’s been anything but a conventional time for traditional grocery stores, which lost some digital sales steam in 2021. According to new research from Barrington, Ill.-based Brick Meets Click, there was a 6.8% decline in online grocery sales on a same-store basis from September 2020 to September 2021.
The firm’s “eGrocery Performance Benchmarking 2021 Wave” report showed a decrease in orders and average order values during that time frame, as other retail channels appear to have siphoned some digital sales from conventional grocers. Stores in medium-sized markets generated more sales than those in larger areas, likely due to greater digital competition in more populated regions.
“We know from our monthly eGrocery shopping survey that Mass is driving the online grocery sales gains in the broader U.S. market,” explained David Bishop, partner at Brick Meets Click. “So benchmarking is incredibly valuable because it enables grocery retailers to compare their performance versus their peers to identify improvement opportunities.”
To Bishop’s point, despite the slide from one pandemic year to the next, the research showed some bright spots and points of differentiation for traditional grocers. For example, locations that operated online grocery services for less than a year did not post significantly lower sales compared to stores with more established locations, a trend attributed to ongoing COVID-19 habits.
In addition, grocery stores that offered their shoppers more ways to order and receive goods also fared better. The benchmarking report found that weekly online grocery sales for stores that offered both pickup and delivery were 44% higher than stores offering only delivery, and 55% higher than stores offering only pickup.
The Brick Meets Click research, sponsored by Mercatus, Hussmann Corp. and Cardlytics, was based on online transactional data linked to non-personal identified households across nearly 950 stores from 45 U.S. banners. Additional finding will be released later this month.