- Online grocery sales reached $8.1 billion in October, up slightly from the previous month, according to the latest e-commerce data from Brick Meets Click and Mercatus released on Thursday.
- Orders for delivery and pickup totaled $6.4 billion, a level that is about in line with figures for September and October but about $1.1 billion higher than the summer sales period.
- Grocery e-commerce has settled into a more predictable pattern after the pandemic-induced gyrations that marked 2020 and continued into 2021.
Consumer interest in buying food and other household goods online may have leveled off, but the report makes clear that shoppers remain much more engaged with services that allow them to avoid walking supermarket aisles than they were before the pandemic began last year.
Grocery e-commerce hit a lull in the middle of 2021 as vaccines rolled out and people felt more comfortable shopping in stores. Still, even at their lowest point for 2021, seen in July, delivery and pickup orders were significantly higher than in 2019, according to the research.
In addition, the current number of monthly active users — a key metric — was higher in October than the total number of households in August 2019 that had placed at least one online grocery during the preceding 12 months. About half of U.S. households purchased groceries online during October, per the report.
Ship-to-home sales, which comprise orders sent to consumers by couriers like FedEx, UPS and the United States Postal Service, were also steady in October, at $1.7 billion — about where they've been for most of 2021.
Brick Meets Click Partner David Bishop noted that the calmer online sales pace should make it easier for grocers to strategize for the coming year.
"As the number of new COVID-19 cases in October continued to decline, key performance indicators (KPIs) for monthly active users, order frequency, and average order value are rebalancing from the record highs of 2020 and now provide a more stable and sizable base for building and forecasting the business in 2022 and beyond,” Bishop said in a statement.
The report indicates that shoppers are especially interested in pickup. That channel accounted for 37.9% of online grocery orders in October, 8 percentage points above the level seen in November 2020. Using the same measure, delivery's 29.6% share last month represented a gain of just 2 percentage points.