February e-commerce grocery sales climbed 1.5% from a year ago, to $8.8 billion. But, excluding ship-to-home sales, delivery sales fell almost 9% and order frequency dropped to its lowest level since the pandemic began.
That’s according to the latest Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey, released Tuesday.
Monthly active users (MAUs) of e-grocery channels, however, grew more than 5% in February compared to a year ago—the second straight year-over-year growth in the user base, the data firm said. And pickup sales also climbed 5% during the month.
“The expanding user base for online grocery illustrates its growing reach, but the changing role it plays is evident from contractions in the use of multiple receiving methods and average order frequency, which mostly muted the gains in reach,” Brick Meets Click Partner David Bishop said in a statement.
MAU’s of digital grocery ordering completed 2.49 orders, on average, in February, a decrease of nearly 9% year over year.
Mass-market retailers continue to grow their lead over traditional grocers, the report found. The mass-market MAU base increased more than 20% over 2022, following similar growth in January. Meanwhile, grocery MAUs decreased in the mid-to-upper single digits.
The share of monthly-active online grocery shoppers who also bought groceries online from Walmart in February increased nearly 5 percentage points, to almost 22%, the survey found. But cross-shopping with Target fell by nearly 3 points.
Bishop called the trend a “flight to value,” as inflation-pressed shoppers seek out lower prices.
“Another sign of inflation’s impact on e-grocery ordering patterns is the continued growth that pickup has experienced over the last few months while delivery has encountered a pullback in users,” he said.
Pickup has seen steady growth in users since December, while delivery has continued to decrease. In February, 1.5 times more households used grocery pickup than opted for delivery.
Online’s share of total grocery spending fell 30 basis points, to 12.9%, in February. Excluding the rarely offered ship-to-home option, the adjusted contribution from pickup and delivery decreased 60 basis points, to 10.5%, for the month, the survey found.
“Given that ongoing price inflation is clearly influencing shopping behaviors, grocers should promote ways customers can save more money,” Mercatus President and CEO Sylvain Perrier said in a statement. “Grocery retailers can consider highlighting store brands, offering pricing promotions, creating personalized digital coupons and implementing variable fee structures that lower fees for customers and reduce the cost to assemble.”
The Brick Meets Click survey was conducted Feb. 26-27, with 1,745 adults who participate in grocery shopping.