Five Charts: How Coronavirus Has Impacted Digital Grocery


With much of the US still under stay-at-home orders, consumers are growing more accustomed to grocery shopping online. Brick-and-mortars, delivery startups and ecommerce retailers are adapting to the new normal, but even leaders in online grocery like Amazon and Walmart have struggled to keep up with demand.

Here are five charts that detail the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on digital grocery.

Consumers have relied more heavily on digital grocery during the pandemic. A series of surveys conducted by CivicScience in March 2020 found that consumers were using digital grocers more frequently as the quarantine progressed. During the week of March 22, nine days after the US declared a national emergency, 37% of US adults said they were digitally shopping for groceries more often.

In April 2020, online grocery sales hit a record high, according to Brick Meets Click and Symphony RetailAI. Spending on grocery items via online delivery and click-and-collect grew 37% compared with March.

Yet despite the interest in digital grocery, it’s not an alternative for most shoppers who can’t purchase items in stores. Panic buying and supply-chain disruptions caused by the virus have impacted inventories at grocery stores. However, a relatively small percentage of grocery shoppers are going online for the items that they can’t find in stores. An April 2020 survey from IRI asked US grocery shoppers where they shopped for items that were unavailable at their preferred retailer, and just 17% said they went online to order the item.

Food and beverage outranks most categories in online buying because of the coronavirus, but grocery still makes up a small percentage of ecommerce sales. Concerns about shopping in stores have led many consumers to look for more goods online. A survey conducted in March 2020 by Red Points and OnePoll found that 61.5% of US internet users were more likely to buy food and beverage products online over fears related to the pandemic.

However, food and beverage is a relatively small piece of the overall ecommerce marketplace. In our February 2020 forecast (prior to quarantines), we expected that food and beverage would make up just 4.8% of retail ecommerce sales this year. For comparison, we estimated categories like apparel and consumer electronics would each make up more than 20% of annual ecommerce sales.

Read the full article in eMarketer.