Online Grocery Sales Slid 8% Year Over Year in January

Pickup was the only sector to gather steam as ship-to-home grocery sales sank
grocery pickup worker
Photograph: Shutterstock

Online grocery sales in the U.S. were down in January from the year-ago period, Brick Meets Click and Mercatus reported on Feb. 14, as a sharp falloff in ship-to-home orders pushed down the average frequency of online orders.

For the month, U.S. online grocery sales totaled $8.5 billion, according to Brick Meets Click and Mercatus' monthly shopping surveydown from $8.9 billion in December and $8.6 billion in November. Online sales accounted for not quite 12% of total grocery spend in January, after coming in at nearly 13% of grocery shoppers' spend over the course of 2021. Some 69 million U.S. households ordered groceries online last month, a dip of 1% vs. January 2021.

"Circumstances connected to COVID continue to disrupt the way people shop, but in different ways than earlier in the pandemic," Brick Meets Click partner David Bishop said in a statement. Pickup, the powerhouse of online grocery since April 2020, was the only avenue of online order receipt to see sales grow year over year in January: Online grocery sales for pickup grew nearly 2% in January to $4 billion. In contrast, online sales for home delivery (including from retailers themselves as well as from third-party services such as Instacart and Shipt) fell 7% year over year, and ship-to-home sales sank 30% to $1.5 billion. 

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Pickup's share of the online grocery market now stands at 47%, an increase of almost 5 percentage points since January 2021. U.S. shoppers who buy groceries online regularly placed an average of 2.7 online orders in January, down 5% from a year ago in a slide that was due entirely to the decline in ship-to-home orders, Barrington, Ill.-based Brick Meets Click reported. Still, average order frequency in January was 33% higher than it was in August 2019. 

A rising share of shoppers—61%, up around 4 percentage points from a year ago—also said they planned to buy from the same online grocery service again in the next month, the survey of nearly 1,800 U.S. adults found. But repeat purchase intent was significantly higher for mass merchandisers (65%) than for traditional grocery retailers (61%). An expanded range of pickup times and greater pickup availability could help grocers driver greater loyalty, Mercatus President and CEO Sylvain Perrier suggested.  




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