retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The newest Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey is out, concluding that "the U.S. online grocery market finished April with $8.4 billion in sales, contracting by 10% compared to March’s $9.3 billion, but gaining 16% versus April 2020 … Despite this month-over-month decrease, total online grocery sales in April 2021 were more than four times higher than pre-pandemic levels."

The survey "found that 67.8 million U.S. households bought groceries online in April, a 12% decline versus a year ago. However, this decline in shopper base was offset by

more engagement as April’s monthly active users placed more delivery and pickup orders. These orders accounted for 78% of April 2021 total online grocery sales."

More from the survey:

•  "April 2021’s average order value (AOV) of pickup, delivery, and ship-to-home orders dropped 6% versus the prior year on an order-weighted basis. This drop was driven largely by a 7% decline in ship-to-home AOV. Pickup and delivery AOVs dipped 1% and under 3% respectively but remained $8 (10%) above pre-COVID order values measured in August 2019."

•  "The repeat intent rate, which measures the likelihood that a monthly active user will make another order within the next month with the same grocery service, jumped to 55% for April, up five percentage points versus a year ago, but continues to remain significantly below pre- pandemic intent. Among less satisfied users in April 2021, 11% are still searching for an acceptable alternative as they are extremely or very likely to use another service in the next month."

“Online shopping has remained an attractive way to buy groceries for a sizable segment of the U.S.,” said David Bishop, partner, Brick Meets Click, in a prepared statement. “Last year, retailers were in a race to meet the dramatic surge in demand. This year, it’s about executing a sound and sustainable strategy, with the imperative squarely on improving integration and implementation.”

Full disclosure:  Mercatus has been an MNB sponsor.

KC's View:

It isn't surprising that as the world gradually opens up, we're going to see some backing off from pandemic-era e-grocery behaviors.  That simply makes sense.

That said, a sizable percentage of the population has become comfortable with this form of shopping - they know that it can open up time to do other things and allows them to reorder their priorities.  Even if the percentage of e-grocery sales drops, the behavior has become far more entrenched for a lot of people, and is likely to continue to grow over the long term.