October 12, 2021

Sept 2021: U.S. Online Grocery Sales total $8.0 Billion

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Sept 2021: U.S. Online Grocery Sales total $8.0 Billion


The U.S. online grocery market generated $8.0 billion in sales during September, driven by $6.4 billion from the pickup/delivery segment and $1.7 billion from ship-to-home, reported the Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey fielded September 28-29, 2021.

“The combined pickup and delivery segment now captures nearly 80% of sales in the U.S. eGrocery market, and pickup hit a record-high portion of total sales in our September research wave, underscoring its critical role in a grocer’s strategy,” said David Bishop, partner at Brick Meets Click.

Key Findings & Insights: September 2021

Share of sales and orders shifting toward pickup/delivery

While YOY comparisons are not available, comparing September 2021 versus August 2020 showed:

  • Ship-to-home’s share of sales shrank by 10 percentage points while pickup captured all that and more, given the share that delivery also ceded.
  • Pickup/delivery expanded its share of online orders - growing from 56% in August 2020 to 67% in September 2021.

Monthly active user base growing for pickup/delivery

The number of U.S. households that bought groceries online in Sept., using any of the three receiving methods, rose 16% to 64.1 million households compared to Aug. 2020.

For the same period, pickup/delivery’s combined monthly active user (MAU) base grew more than 33% while the ship-to-home user base contracted by over 12%.

AOVs rebalancing versus pre-COVID

For September 2021, the weighted average spending per order across all three receiving methods totaled $69.65, down 12% from August 2020, but up 19% from pre-pandemic levels in August 2019.

Since August 2019, AOVs for pickup/delivery have risen by 14%, while ship-to-home AOVs have declined by 3%.

Order frequency stabilizing at elevated level

Since January 2021, the average number of orders placed by MAUs has consistently ranged between 2.66 and 2.83, and September 2021 continued this trend with MAUs placing an average of 2.76 orders.

In contrast, pre-pandemic, the average number of online orders was significantly lower at just 2.03 in August 2019.

Cross-shopping continues between Grocery & Mass/Supercenter

The share of Grocery’s MAU who also placed at least one online order with Mass during September 2021 increased nearly eight points to 25.7% versus August 2020.

The degree of cross-shopping has consistently totaled between 24.3 and 28.7% every month since January 2021 and shows how a mass rival could now be a grocery retailer’s primary competitor when it comes to online grocery.

Repeat intent: Grocery still lags Mass

The likelihood that an MAU will order again from the same online grocery service in the next month landed at 61.4% for September 2021, up one and a half points from prior month but down 13 points when compared to August 2020.

When comparing repeat intent rates across retail formats, grocery’s repeat intent rates lagged those of mass retailers like Walmart and Target by 3.5 percentage points, or almost 6%, for September 2021.

Sponsor Message & Appreciation

“Conventional grocers need to take a closer look at their local market dynamics to understand how well they are performing online,” said Sylvain Perrier, Mercatus president and CEO.

“The mass merchandisers continue to set the pace and define the standard for digital grocery against which other retailers’ services are increasingly evaluated. Now more than ever, it’s essential for grocery retailers to align their operational processes with a best-in-class customer experience to retain a competitive edge.”

We thank the team at Mercatus for their continued generous support of the September research wave. Click here to see the October 13, 2021 press release.  

About this Consumer Research

* The Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey is an ongoing independent research initiative created and conducted by Brick Meets Click and sponsored by Mercatus.

Brick Meets Click conducted the survey on September 28-29, 2021, with 1,728 adults,   18 years and older, who participated in the household’s grocery shopping.

Results were adjusted based on internet usage among U.S. adults to account for the non-response bias associated with online surveys. Responses are geographically representative of the U.S. and were weighted by age to reflect the national population of adults, 18 years and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Brick Meets Click used a similar methodology for each of the surveys conducted in 2021 – August 29-30 (n=1,806), July 29-30 (n=1,892), June 27-28 (n=1,789), May 28-30 (n=1,872), Apr. 26-28 (n=1,941), Mar. 26-28 (n=1,811), Feb. 26-28 (n= 1,812), and Jan. 28-31 (n=1,776); throughout 2020 – Nov. 11-14 (n=2,067), Aug. 24-26 (n=1,817), Jun. 24-25 (n=1,781), May 20-22 (n=1,724), Apr. 22-24 (n= 1,651), and Mar. 23-25 (n=1,601); and in 2019 – Aug. 22-24 (n = 2,485).