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Ecommerce Grocery Shopping Throughout the Coronavirus

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Sales for online grocery and food are projected to increase as the coronavirus pandemic keeps the United States at home. Throughout 2019 and before the pandemic hit, food and beverage online sales were already on the rise and projected to continue increasing, according to eMarketer. Now, during the coronavirus outbreak, ease of deliveries through apps and ecommerce deals streamline new users’ experiences. Walmart’s grocery app, as one example, saw record downloads: a 460% growth in average daily downloads through the beginning of April compared to January 2020, according to Retail Dive.

The drastic shift to online shopping could cause a permanent shift in online shopper behavior. As customers become habituated with ecommerce, online sales could continue to increase. Ecommerce sales for the food and grocery retail industry could remain high even beyond the coronavirus crisis. As consumers grow accustomed to the convenience of grocery apps and online ordering, they could reliably turn to this mode of shopping more consistently in the future.

Based on NetElixir’s compiled research, we forecast sustained triple digit growth in year over year ecommerce sales for the food and grocery retail industry.

One Day Sales in Grocery Ecommerce

The nature of the coronavirus outbreak calls each day into uncertainty. Throughout the course of our webinar presentations, NetElixir’s Founder and CEO Udayan Bose stresses the importance of monitoring daily changes. 

This past Sunday, April 5, 2020, had the highest one-day year over year growth since we started collected daily data on February 9:

  • Site conversions rose nearly 250%.
  • Transactions skyrocketed over 2000%.
  • The percentage of mobile orders surged 380%.
Ecommerce grocery sales during coronavirus
Overall conversion rate for Food ecommerce. Orange square notes where rates started to increase dramatically, peaking at April 5, 2020.

Were people gearing up for at home holiday feasts and celebrations? Possibly. In the past, Easter has boosted ecommerce sales

The average order value (AOV) on April 5, however, dropped 3% compared to the same day in 2019. Reduced free shipping minimums could impact the drop in AOV, as people buy more conservatively for smaller parties.

The pre-holiday sales, however, could not be sustained. As of yesterday, April 14, ecommerce grocery sales dropped from April 5 highs. However, we still some growth when compared to the data for April 14, 2019:

  • The number of transactions increased over 100%.
  • The AOV increased 25%.
  • The percentage of mobile orders increased 24%.

ECommerce Grocery Sales Comparison for the Week before the Holidays

As the Easter Bunny has also been deemed an essential worker by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, orders to fill an Easter basket could have also contributed to ecommerce grocery demand.

Ecommerce grocery sales; easter basket
The week before Easter saw a high spike in ecommerce sales for 2020, compared to 2019. Photo from Pexels.

According to the National Retail Federation data for 2019, more than half of survey respondents said they celebrate Easter by cooking a holiday meal at home. With social distancing measures impacting 2020 holiday celebrations, more people could be turning to cooking at home. Home cooked meals require a bit of planning, which could contribute to last Sunday’s massive surge in demand. 

As Easter is a shifting holiday, however, year over year comparison for exact days may not be entirely fair. Last year, Easter fell on April 21. In comparing the data for the week before Easter (April 5, 2020 to April 14, 2019), we see:

  • 122% increase in site-wide conversions.
  • Over 800% increase in the number of transactions.
  • 1% decrease in the AOV.
  • 17% increase in the percentage of mobile orders.

Friends, families, and loved ones learned new ways of coming together for a different sort of holiday celebration. They turned more to online grocery shopping for their celebratory occasions. 

Additional Insights

Register for our next webinar to stay up-to-date on the latest data regarding the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on ecommerce sales and online shopping behavior. Join us live on Thursday, April 23 at 2 PM ET.

Join BWG Strategy with NetElixir’s webinar on studying the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, live on Tuesday, April 21 at 3 PM ET.

While we have covered an extensive dataset, it is by no means exhaustive. If you are interested in discussing specific insights for your category, please email us at shareinsights@netelixir.com

You can watch our March 11 webinar here, which was the first of the series on tracking the impact of the coronavirus on ecommerce sales and online shopping behavior.

Our March 26 update webinar featured our first Retail Superhero, Parag Shah, the Vice President of Grocery at Wakefern Food Corporation for Shoprite,  and detailed over a month’s worth of research.

The third webinar in our impact of Covid-19 series, which aired on April 9, featured UPS’s President of SMB and US Marketing, Gerard Gibbons, for a live Q&A.

Further Reading on Ecommerce Updates During Coronavirus

Our Founder and CEO Udayan Bose emphasizes the importance of real data. Real-time data, gathered daily by our Retail Intelligence Lab, shares a glimpse into how people are coping day by day. For further reading, you can see our prior retail analytics updates on retail ecommerce and online shopping behavior:

Initially published April 15, 2020. Updated June 24, 2020.