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US grocery shoppers buck online trend

News, 14 August 2017
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WASHINGTON DC: E-commerce is booming in many business sectors, but it appears the trend has not yet affected grocery shopping in the US because just 9% of Americans report ordering their groceries online at least once a month.

And the proportion drops to just 4% for those who do so weekly compared to 83% of consumers who shop for groceries in person at least once a week.

These are some of the headline findings from the latest Consumption Habits survey from research firm Gallup, which conducted a nationwide poll of more than 1,000 US adults in early July.

Released last week, the respected annual retail report also found that the low uptake of online grocery shopping even applies to younger consumers, with just 15% of those aged 18 to 29 saying they purchase groceries online at least once a month.

That falls to 12% of consumers aged 30 to 49 (on a monthly basis), 10% of those aged 50 to 64 and a “negligible” 2% of consumers aged 65 and older.

At the same time, age has little relationship with shopping in person because visiting physical grocery stores is nearly universal across all age groups, the report added.

However, despite current consumer behaviour, Gallup went on to emphasise the possibility of “enormous potential for growth” in the online grocery sector.

It pointed to Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Food Market, which has raised speculation that the e-commerce giant will use the healthy food chain as a launching pad to expand its online operations into food and beverages.

“Shopping for groceries online has a long way to go before it catches on with the vast majority of consumers, who mostly do their grocery shopping in person,” the report said.

“However, this may change, with experts asserting the traditional grocery business may be in a situation similar to that of department stores in recent years, with more retail space than the market can sustain,” it added.

“Traditional grocery stores may find their market share continuing to erode because of changing shopping patterns, particularly online shopping, and may be forced to maintain viability by cutting costs and reducing service.”

Elsewhere, Gallup revealed that consumers in eastern states and those living in cities are moderately more likely to shop online for their groceries, while those in employment – perhaps because they have less time to shop – are almost twice as likely as those not in work to shop online.

Data sourced from Gallup; additional content by WARC staff

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