Home » Research Shows Conventional Grocers’ Online Sales Down 6.8%

Research Shows Conventional Grocers’ Online Sales Down 6.8%


Conventional grocers reported a 6.8 percent drop in online grocery sales on a same-store basis during the 12 weeks ending Sept. 28, 2021, versus the prior year, according to the Brick Meets Click eGrocery Performance Benchmarking 2021 Wave. 

A 3.1 percent decrease in orders combined with a 3.9 percent decline in the average order value contributed to the drop in sales on a year-over-year basis.  

The research, sponsored by Mercatus, Hussmann Corp. and Cardlytics, resumed the benchmarking initiative that Brick Meets Click started in 2016 but paused in 2020 due to the pandemic. 

The study is an independently conducted online grocery benchmarking initiative that is based on online transactional data linked to non-personal identified households across nearly 950 stores from 45 U.S. banners. 

“We know from our monthly eGrocery shopping survey that Mass is driving the online grocery sales gains in the broader U.S. market,” said David Bishop, partner at Brick Meets Click. 

“So benchmarking is incredibly valuable because it enables Grocery retailers to compare their performance versus their peers to identify improvement opportunities,” he said. 

The first of the initiative’s three reports releases this week and focuses on Topline Performance Findings, including key causal factors that can impact performance, such as how long a service has operated, what services are offered by each store and where the store operates. 

Among the findings:

  • Age of online operations did not significantly impact overall performance. The 7 percent of locations that had operated their online grocery services for less than a year did not report significantly lower sales compared to stores with longer running operations, likely due to COVID-related circumstances. Before COVID, Brick Meets Click documented a strong and positive correlation between sales and the age of the service.
  • Offering customers multiple ways to receive orders did impact performance results. Weekly online grocery sales for stores that offered both pickup and delivery were 44 percent higher than stores offering only delivery and 55 percent higher than stores offering only pickup. 
    • In aggregate, delivery accounted for more than 60 percent of all online orders, but when stores allowed customers to receive orders via either delivery or pickup, delivery’s share dropped to just over 50 percent. Only 49 percent of stores in the sample offered customers the choice between the two methods.
  • Stores in medium-sized markets generated higher weekly sales than stores in more-populated trade areas. This is a significant flip compared to the 2019 benchmarks, and most likely due to the growth in the availability of competing online services in the larger markets. 

“As an equipment solution provider, our goal is to help the retail store and fulfillment center to excel at executing the strategy,” said Dan Sullentrup, VP of e-commerce at Hussmann Corp. “The challenge is there’s no one, simple solution as there are many variables that need to be considered and vetted with the retailer’s overall strategy.” 

The complete results of the Brick Meets Click eGrocery Performance Benchmarking 2021 Wave will be released in a series of three reports.

Part one, Top-line Performance Findings, releases in mid-January, followed by a public webinar featuring Bishop and Sullentrup on March 3 at 1 p.m. Central time. 

Part two, Key Customer Metrics, releases in mid-February and focuses on key customer metrics, ranging from acquisition and churn rates to buying patterns by customer cohort and more, supported by additional perspective from Cardlytics.  

Part three, Top-Quartile Analysis, releases in mid-March and focuses on revealing factors and issues that can show grocers how they can further improve performance with practical guidance from Mercatus.

The Brick Meets Click eGrocery Performance Benchmarking is an annual initiative based on ePOS data provided by participating retailers. It began in 2016 with 17 grocery store banners and has grown to 45 banners for 2021. 

The study examines the critical business questions related to improving strategy and execution when operating a first-party e-commerce shopping service.   

For information about access to the research and the reports, click here.

Brick Meets Click is an analytics and strategic insight firm that connects grocery businesses with tomorrow’s needs. 

For more information, visit brickmeetsclick.com.

For more information on supermarket online sales conducted by Brick Meets Click, click here.

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