The coronavirus pandemic has meant that many US shoppers are switching to online grocery delivery or pickup services to avoid shopping in stores.
Experts say that we could see a permanent shift after the pandemic has passed with more people choosing to shop for groceries online as they become more accustomed to this.
More people are trying these services than otherwise would have without this catalyst and gives online players a greater chance to acquire and keep a new customer base.
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More Americans than ever before are choosing to shop for groceries from the comfort of their couch as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the US and forces most of the county into lockdown.
This is driving a significant spike in demand for online grocery delivery and pickup services and has seen the major players in the market, such as Walmart, Amazon, Instacart, and Target, scramble to service their new audiences in the past few weeks.
Analysts say that the effects of this unusual period are likely to be long-lasting as more shoppers who have never used online services become increasingly used to these.
Life before coronavirus
Before the coronavirus outbreak started, online grocery sales in the US accounted for a small portion of the sector overall, with 3% of grocery spend happening online and around 10% of US consumers using these services frequently.
The market was, however, in growth mode – its value doubled between 2016 and 2018 and more convenient ways of shopping online, such as buy online and pick up in-store services, were becoming more prevalent.
Fast forward to March 2020 and demand in this channel has surged almost overnight.
According to data from Namogoo, online supermarket visits were up 162% in March 2020 versus March 2019 and up 146% from February 2020 to March 2020.
And order volume for online grocery retailers was up 210% between March 12 and 15, compared with the same period in 2019, according to Rakuten Intelligence.