- Online grocery sales in the United States returned to a record level in March, rising by $1.3 billion to $9.3 billion after recording a decline in February, according to figures published Thursday by Brick Meets Click. Year-over-year, grocery e-commerce sales were up 43% in March.
- The number of monthly active users for pickup was up by 12% in March compared with the same period in 2020, while delivery users grew 23%. Meanwhile, ship-to-home monthly users declined 27% year-over-year. Excluding the ship-to-home segment, grocery e-commerce orders generated $7.1 billion in sales last month, about 77% higher than the $4 billion recorded in March 2020.
- The latest grocery e-commerce figures, which represent the first year-over-year comparison of online grocery shopping levels by Brick Meets Click, show that pickup is continuing its newfound dominance during the pandemic.
Grocery e-commerce is still going strong one year after pandemic restrictions started, with pickup still reigning among online orders, according to Brick Meets Click.
The analysis shows that 69.3 million households placed at least one online grocery order during March — 7% fewer than the 74.5 million households recorded in March 2020, when stay-at-home orders drove a sudden increase in demand for grocery e-commerce services. But in a reflection of how shopper preferences have changed over the past year, the decline was caused by a marked decrease in the number of grocery orders delivered by services like FedEx and UPS, not by an overall reduction in consumer interest in grocery e-commerce, Brick Meets Click said.
The number of households placing orders placed for delivery by ship-to-home services fell 27% in March compared with the same period in 2020. Orders placed for delivery by grocers themselves or by third-party services like Instacart and Shipt were up 23% during the month.
Customer satisfaction with online grocery services continued to improve in March after plummeting earlier in the year. The proportion of adults surveyed late in the month who said they were likely to use a specific service again, 62%, was up from 56% in January and 58% in February.
While ship-to-home used to have the largest share of grocery e-commerce before the pandemic, store delivery is picking up steam and pickup has now claimed the top spot, according to Brick Meets Click.
“Over the last 12 months, consumers’ dramatic shift to online grocery shopping has solidified, with curbside pickup attracting the largest share of monthly shoppers at 53% compared to ship-to-home and delivery,” Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Mercatus, which sponsored the research conducted by Brick Meets Click, said in the announcement of the findings.
Grocers have mounted a robust effort to take advantage of the rising interest in pickup services, and those investments are paying off. In March, Albertsons reported that the company's Drive Up & Go service is now the fastest-growing component of the grocer's business, while BJ's Wholesale Club reported that half of its online orders in the fourth quarter of 2020 came through the click-and-collect channel.