The Friday Checkout is a weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.
Digital grocery sales may have cooled in recent months after surging when the COVID-19 pandemic started four years ago, but the industry’s sheer size and continued strong interest by consumers in loading up on essential goods means the grocery sector is hardly doomed to giving up its online glory.
The reality is quite the contrary, in fact: The grocery industry is poised to become the largest e-commerce category as measured by sales by 2026, according to a new report from Insider Intelligence. By that point, online grocery sales will account for just under 20% of U.S. e-commerce sales, enough to push it ahead of categories like apparel and furniture that have traditionally dominated the digital arena, the data analysis firm said.
Insider Intelligence predicts that digital grocery sales will claim the e-commerce mantle in part because the firm expects the sector’s digital share to rise at the same time as other sectors lose online momentum. In addition, digital sales comprise a much smaller share of the grocery industry’s total sales than is the case for other industries, the firm said, giving grocers plenty of room to expand online.
Insider Intelligence also points out that inflation is a key reason grocers have seen their digital sales grow robustly over the past two years, but predicts that grocery e-commerce will still expand by 17.4% in 2024. The increase is likely to result from higher volumes as opposed to price increases — a reversal from recent years, according to the report.
In case you missed it
Hy-Vee launches new health and wellness benefits program
In partnership with Soda Health, the regional grocer debuted Smart Benefits, making all of its stores “points of care” for Medicaid, Medicare and other health insurance members. These shoppers now have the ability to redeem benefits for healthy food, nutrition support, medications and everyday health care items, according to a Wednesday announcement.
In early December, Kroger also partnered with Soda Health to launch the health tech company’s Smart Benefits program, allowing eligible customers to receive certain pharmacy, nutrition services and other benefits.
Publix opens its doors in Kentucky
On Wednesday, the Florida-based grocer officially opened its first store in Kentucky, including a Publix Pharmacy and an adjacent Publix Liquors — the first Publix Liquors outside of the grocer’s home state.
To celebrate, Publix is offering store-exclusive Kentucky-inspired products, including a Publix BourbonRidge pulled pork sub, ground beef from Kentucky-born and -raised cattle, chocolate bourbon walnut pie, a bourbon recipe from Maker’s Mark Private Selection and more.
Albertsons’ latest meal solution
The grocer’s newest private label line, the Signature Select Mix + Match meal solution, gives customers a new selection of frozen entrees, sides and vegetables that can be cooked together in the oven for about 35 minutes.
Albertsons’ latest offering is available across 1,900 Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Acme and Shaw’s locations, per a Thursday announcement.
Number of the week: 1.3%
That’s the annual rate the food at home index increased by in December, according to Consumer Price Index data released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall inflation rose in December by a 0.3% annual pace.
Latest retail sales data
The U.S. Census Bureau will release the monthly retail sales figures for December on Wednesday.
NRF’s retail conference starts this weekend
The National Retail Federation is hosting its “Big Show” Sunday through Tuesday. Along with the sessions and expo halls, this year’s event will include a new Foodservice Innovation Zone featuring more than 50 food technology exhibitors and immersive activations. Grocery Dive reporter Catherine Douglas Moran will be on-site to cover the event and happy to talk (grocery) shop.
But first, let me take a selfie
Marty, Stop & Shop’s googly-eyed, aisle-scanning robot that has stolen the hearts of shoppers, is ready for its close-up. In partnership with Badger Technologies, Stop & Shop has debuted its new “Selfies with Marty” promotion to help fight school hunger.
At the upcoming National Retail Federation conference in New York City, attendees are invited to take a selfie with Marty and post it to social media with #MartyTheRobot. For each selfie taken, Badger Technologies will donate 10 meals in support of 47 New York City partner schools participating in the Stop & Shop Food Pantry Program.
We look forward to seeing Grocery Dive reporter Catherine Douglas Moran’s selfie with Marty next week!