By Lucas Darnell, Director of Member Relations and Advocacy for Eastern U.S., Food Marketing Institute
grocery shopping online vs brick-and-mortar

Last year, I wrote about how brick-and-mortar grocery stores are alive and well, and looking at the 2019 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report we see this trend remains strong. An important indicator is the number of trips that consumers make to brick-and-mortar stores for their groceries. This year’s report finds consumers visit a grocery store 1.6 times a week, which is consistent with the trend of the past several years. In addition, most shoppers (92%) continue to have a go-to store for their food, a place they can readily name where they spend most of their grocery dollars.

But, what about online grocery shopping? Trends finds that 43% of shoppers have ordered groceries online in the past year. What we find is that online is yet another banner for grocery shoppers. Those consumers who grocery shop online also shop just as often and spend just as much in brick-and-mortar stores as those who do not shop online for groceries.  

Interestingly, shoppers report there are attributes of both online shopping and brick-and-mortar shopping that consumers rank higher. For example, shoppers claim the physical store does a better job at:

  • Freshness of perishable items (69%).
  • Easy return process (64%).
  • Quick access to customer service (58%).

However, consumers report online grocery shopping is equal to brick-and-mortar or better for:

  • Access to detailed product information (59%).
  • Convenience to use (55%).
  • Broad selection of project offerings (55%).

It is important to note that while online-only grocery retailers continue to grow, shoppers are also using online-ordering options offered by brick-and-mortar retailers more and more. For example, 17% of shoppers have ordered groceries online and have used pick-up at a store or kiosk. The line between online and brick-and-mortar is becoming blurred.

Download U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends