Walking into a brick-and-mortar store used to be how most people bought their groceries, but now only 44% of consumers do most of their shopping in-store, according to a new PYMNTS consumer report.
In early 2020, 63% of shoppers made most of their grocery purchases at a physical store, but the pandemic changed that—perhaps irreversibly. A rapidly growing share of consumers now buys all their groceries online, led by millennials.
Today, an average 37% of shoppers do not buy groceries at a physical store—a huge surge from just 2.2% pre-pandemic.
And when consumers do shop at the grocery store, they’re purchasing less than before. The report found the average number of goods purchased per visit has dipped from an estimated six pre-pandemic to four now.
Non-food items topped the list of products that consumers have cut back on, with 48% of shoppers purchasing less cleaning supplies and personal and healthcare products at the grocery store.
The percentage of hybrid shoppers—those who buy groceries both online and in-store—has increased in the last several years, but not as dramatically as digital-only shoppers.
Thirty-nine percent of consumers now purchase their groceries through a mix of digital and physical channels, up from 37% pre-pandemic. According to the report’s authors, the share of hybrid shoppers remained “relatively steady” across all age groups, “despite the rise of all-digital shoppers, underscoring the systemic shift toward digital channels.”
CONVENIENCE IS KEY
Convenience was identified as the number one reason grocery consumers shop online rather than in-store. Sixty-two percent of shoppers said convenience is a significant factor in their decision-making process, and 36% cited it as their primary motivator.
After convenience, 54% of consumers said high prices or a lack of in-person deals was a factor that prompted them to shop online instead, and 32% said it was the most important reason.
There was a generational divide regarding the reason consumers shop online. Convenience mattered most to younger shoppers, while older consumers were more concerned with finding the best deals.
Large shares of Gen Z (45%) and millennials (42%) cited convenience as the most significant reason for shopping online, whereas less baby boomers (31%) and Gen Xers (35%) said the same.
Conversely, 38% of baby boomers and 36% of Gen X underlined cost effectiveness as their primary motivation for shopping digitally, while only 14% of Gen Z and 25% of millennials agreed.
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