According to a study published in 2018 by the marketing blog Invesp about U.S. online grocery shopping statistics and trends, 48% of American food shoppers were already buying at least a portion of their groceries online, with that number expected to rise to 59% last year and to as much as 70% by 2022. The most important factors driving online food purchases were the fact that it saved time and was more convenient.
All this, remember, was before the coronavirus pandemic hit. It’s too early for comprehensive statistics on overall growth in the past few months, but according to data from the Nielsen and Rakuten Intelligence team, online sales of consumer packaged goods of the kinds typically sold in grocery stores increased 56% for the single week ending April 18 compared with the same period in 2019.
The limitations imposed by shelter-in-place orders, combined with concerns about in-person grocery shopping while the pandemic remains unchecked have obviously only increased demand for delivery. The major provider of grocery delivery, Instacart, for instance, saw its business more than double between this February and March. (Walmart and Amazon recorded higher delivery volume, but not exclusively of groceries.) The company delivers from many of the best grocery store chains in every state.
Shopping for our food and sundry household items has been a part of our lives for so long that it’s hard for some of us to imagine handing the chore over completely to somebody else, even if we’ve taken advantage of shopping services for some of our needs in the past. But that’s the new reality — and there are advantages to online shopping.
For one thing, in addition to saving time and eliminating the need for a trip to the market, online shopping often provides a wider selection of products. (These are 20 foods to buy while you’re sheltering in place because of their long shelf lives.)
In addition, it might actually save you money, even taking into consideration delivery fees and driver tips: Whether you realize it or not, you probably used to spend a portion of your weekly grocery budget on impulse buys. Supermarket layouts are designed to encourage unplanned purchases. If you’re ordering groceries to be delivered, there’s much less opportunity to pick up something you may or may not need on the spur of the moment.