Consumers Continue To Choose Physical Over Digital For Groceries

Woman shopping

Consumers have a variety of options when it comes to buying groceries, and they continue to choose physical grocery stores to make their purchases. That’s according to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) recently released “The State of Grocery Shopping” survey, which found that 99 percent of adults buy some or all of their groceries in-person.

Consumers visit physical stores personally because they seek immediate access to products (71 percent); the ability to select fresh meat, dairy and produce (70 percent); as well as see product options and select all other items in person (69 percent).

“The grocery sector remains relatively unimpacted by the growth in e-commerce sales,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “Consumers are heavily invested in the types of food they purchase, and they want to be able to select the best and the freshest to take home.”

Millennials take a different path to grocery shopping

Keeping true to the Millennial influence on industries, grocery shopping for this demographic looks very different from older generations. For instance:

  • They shop at 5.9 different types of grocery stores, slightly above the average.
  • Nearly one out of four Millennials (23 percent) shop three or more times a week for groceries.
  • Even when ordering online, 81 percent of Millennials go to the store to pick-up their grocery order.
  • A significantly higher number of Millennials buy groceries from convenience stores (74 percent), Amazon/other pure online retailers (67 percent) and high-end supermarkets (66 percent).

“Millennials have been called the foodie generation and blend that with their command of technology, and we see some changes in grocery purchasing behaviors, which will drive all grocery retailers to make appropriate modifications in their business model to address the way they shop,” said McGee. “The grocery retailer who wins their share of wallet is the one who delivers an omnichannel experience that meets their desires and demands.”

Online shopping mainly focused on click-and-collect

When it comes to online grocery shopping, nearly three out of four consumers make purchases online (74 percent) and then pick up their order in-store. Only one percent of consumers solely buy their groceries online and never go into a store to buy groceries.

More than four out of ten consumers (44 percent) have their grocery purchases delivered to their home, and more than one-third (36 percent) have items shipped by mail or courier service to their home. Fifty-four percent of the high-end supermarket shoppers who buy online have the retailer deliver the groceries to their home—the highest of any type of online grocery shopper.

Consumers not loyal to one retailer

When it comes to shopping behaviors, consumers on average shop at 5.4 different types of grocery retailers, with 93 percent of people patronizing discount department stores—like Walmart and Target—and 92 percent at traditional supermarkets for grocery purchases. Trailing behind these two retail formats, slightly more than two-thirds of consumers shop at limited assortment food stores—like Aldi and Trader Joe’s—and warehouse clubs (tied at 69 percent).

Of the grocery store formats, traditional supermarkets have the most frequent visitors, with 55 percent making purchases at least once per week. The largest shares of infrequent shoppers buy occasionally (every few months) from small, specialty/gourmet food stores (76 percent) and high-end supermarkets (65 percent).

The ICSC State of Grocery Shopping survey was conducted online by Opinion Research Corp. on behalf of ICSC from Aug. 21-23, 2017. The survey represents a demographically representative sample of 1,012 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older.

ICSC serves the global retail real estate industry.

About The Author

A word nerd, grocery geek and three-year member of The Shelby Report. She is a proud new homeowner and a great lover of avocado toast.