Online grocery sales were down 6% overall in March vs. a record-setting performance a year ago, Brick Meets Click and Mercatus reported April 7, but grocery delivery bucked the trend in a strong month for the segment.
Delivery sales surged 20% year over year in March to $3.5 billion, according to the latest monthly Brick Meets Click/Mercatus e-grocery market survey. The number of delivery orders placed by regular users climbed, too—13%—and average order value rose 7%.
In contrast, sales for online grocery's largest fulfillment segment, pickup (curbside or in-store), slid nearly 11% in March, down to $3.8 billion from $4.3 billion a year ago. Ship-to-home sales, meanwhile, dropped more than 30% to $1.4 billion, with the average basket size for ship-to-home orders shrinking 23%.
The contraction in pickup and ship-to-home sales weighed on online grocery sales overall, with e-grocery sales totaling $8.7 billion last month—equaling February's tally—vs. a record $9.3 billion in March 2021. On a quarterly basis, online sales were off 2.5% in the first three months of 2022 vs. the same period a year ago.
David Bishop, partner at Brick Meets Click, said two factors drove the strong performance for grocery delivery in March. "First, the aggressive expansion of third-party providers into grocery is enabling additional ways for people to shop online," Bishop said in a statement. "Second, newer services focused on faster cycle times are appealing to a broader range of trip missions and usage occasions."
Brick Meets Click and Mercatus additionally found that those who regularly ordered groceries online from conventional grocers also continued to cross-shop with mass merchandisers in March: The share of grocery's monthly active online users who also ordered online from the likes of Walmart and Target last month increased almost 4 percentage points to 29%, according to the researchers.
Brick Meets Click and Mercatus fielded their latest survey of nearly 1,700 U.S. shoppers March 28-29.