Walmart dominates the retail field in SNAP grocery market share

Low-price food chains feel bigger bite from loss of Emergency Allotment dollars, Numerator SNAP Shopper Scorecard shows.
SNAP accepted store signage_Shutterstock
Walmart accounted for 25.5% of SNAP shoppers’ annual grocery spend, well ahead of the 8.4% share for Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket retailer. / Photo: Shutterstock

Walmart rules the grocery retail market for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program customers, tripling the share of SNAP spending held by No. 2 The Kroger Co., consumer data specialist Numerator reported.

For the year through the end of the 2023 first quarter, Walmart accounted for 25.5% of SNAP shoppers’ annual grocery spend, well ahead of the share for Kroger (8.4%), Costco Wholesale (6%) and Albertsons Cos. (5.9%), according to Numerator’s SNAP Shopper Scorecard, released Wednesday.

Rounding out the top 10 food retail chains by share of SNAP customer annual grocery spend were Walmart subsidiary Sam’s Club (4.3%), Ahold Delhaize USA (4.2%), Publix Super Markets (2.7%), 7-Eleven (2.3%), Dollar General (2.3%) and Aldi U.S. (2.1%).

For its scorecard, Chicago-based Numerator defines SNAP shoppers as consumers making a dozen or more trips using their SNAP or WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) benefits in the past 12 months.

Other retailers garnering at least a 1% share of SNAP grocery spending were H-E-B (1.9%), Target (1.8%), Dollar Tree (1.6%), Amazon (1.3%), Wakefern Food Corp. (1.1%), WinCo Foods (1.1%), Meijer (1%) and Whole Foods Market (1%). Also making the top 20 were BJ’s Wholesale Club (0.9%) and Circle K (0.6%).

Numerator noted that its SNAP research shows these shoppers spending more on groceries while making smaller, more frequent trips. Compared with non-SNAP customers, SNAP shoppers are twice as likely to come from larger households, driving higher spend overall—with grocery spending 42% higher. SNAP customer, too, make 68% more grocery trips per year yet, on average, spend 15% less per trip versus non-SNAP shoppers.

Numerator SNAP Shopper Scorecard chart-top 20 retailers_5-17-23

From: Numerator SNAP Shopper Scorecard

The March 1 expiration of SNAP Emergency Allotment (EA) benefits, enacted during the pandemic to help prevent food insecurity, meant that about 32 million people received reduced monthly benefits, with the average household getting $95 less per month versus a year earlier. Numerator’s scorecard showed that low-price retailers felt the most impact from the end of the extra SNAP benefits.

SNAP shoppers spend a disproportionate amount of their grocery dollars at low-price retailers, as 7-Eleven, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and WinCo all snared approximately twice as much share among SNAP vs Non-SNAP shoppers. Meanwhile, Target, Whole Foods and Publix have been less vulnerable to decreased SNAP benefits, Numerator said, explaining that SNAP shoppers are less likely than non-SNAP shoppers to shop at these more premium retailers and tend to spend less on average than non-SNAP customers when they do frequent these stores.

The SNAP Shopper Scorecard also indicated that these consumers prefer Sam’s Club to Costco. Numerator said that Costco holds slightly more SNAP shopper grocery share than Sam’s Club—at 6% to 4.3%, respectively—yet Costco gets “significantly less than its fair share.” Sam’s Club draws a larger percentage of SNAP shoppers (42.2% versus 36.4% for Costco) and tallies higher overall spending from SNAP participants.

In terms of customer transactions, Walmart led with 96.9% of SNAP shoppers purchasing groceries at its stores over the past year, followed by Dollar Tree (90.3%), 7-Eleven (76.1%), Dollar General (67.2%), Target (63.3%), Circle K (58.5%), Kroger (50.2%), Amazon (46.3%), Aldi (42.4%) and Sam’s Club (42.2%).

Walmart also edged out H-E-B in SNAP shopper buy rate, with these customers pending an average of $2,290 at the retail giant over the last 12 months versus $2,145 at the Texas grocer. The next-biggest SNAP shopper buy rates were from Kroger ($1,448), Ahold Delhaize USA ($1,430), Costco ($1,424), Publix ($1,237), Albertsons ($1,215), ShopRite parent Wakefern ($1,023), Meijer ($953) and Sam’s Club ($883).

Amazon generates solid shopper spending from SNAP recipients—due to their larger households and greater grocery needs—even though these customers don’t tend to food-shop with the e-tailer, Numerator added. While 46% of SNAP households buy groceries on Amazon—less than the 57% of non-SNAP households who do so—SNAP households shop for groceries on Amazon spend about 18% more, at $236 annually versus $200 for non-SNAP purchasers.



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