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February online grocery sales at $7.9B, down 10% from last year.jpg GETTY IMAGES
During February 2024, the weighted AOV across all receiving methods fell 10% compared to 2023. No method was spared from the AOV downturn: Ship-to-Home and Pickup both fell 13% and Delivery contracted by 7% versus last year.

February online grocery sales at $7.9B, down 10% from last year

Delivery, the only method to expand sales, was up 4.7%

The U.S. online grocery market finished February with total monthly sales of $7.9 billion, down 10.5% compared to 2023, according to the most recent Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopper Survey fielded February 28-29.

Lower average order values were the central catalyst driving the downward year-over-year sales trends as ship-to-home dropped 15.4% and pickup fell 12.8%. Delivery, the only method to expand sales, was up 4.7%, aided by a strong rebound in monthly active users versus last year. 

During February, the weighted AOV across all receiving methods fell 10% compared to 2023. No method was spared from the AOV downturn: ship-to-home and pickup both fell 13% and delivery contracted by 7% versus last year. Most retailers and formats also experienced lower AOVs versus last year to varying degrees. Walmart had a relatively small 2% drop in AOV for pickup and delivery orders versus last year while the Supermarket format reported a 15% drop AOV for pickup and delivery compared to February 2023.

In contrast to the spending downturn, all three receiving methods expanded their respective monthly active users bases. These across-the-board gains were driven by an increase in the share of monthly active users who received orders via multiple methods during the month as the overall user base slipped slightly, down 30 basis points compared to the prior year.

Delivery, however, posted a significantly stronger expansion than either pickup or ship-to-home due to easier comparisons versus last year. 

Looking at the monthly active users trends by income level showed the lowest-income group of households (earning less than $50,000 annually) reported several shifts worth noting since they represent the largest segment of shoppers. For example, fewer lower-income households reported using a pickup or delivery service during February, as penetration pulled back 70 basis points and 460 basis points, respectively, compared to last year. 

In addition, among the lower-income households, Walmart experienced a 150 basis points drop in penetration compared to a 60 basis points drop for supermarkets. These results are due in part to the fact that the lower-income households represent nearly half of Walmart’s monthly active users base for online grocery orders but just under 40% for supermarkets. One factor likely contributing to the year-over-year trends among these households is the expiration of the pandemic-era emergency SNAP allocations at the end of February 2023.   

While the total volume of online grocery orders was essentially flat on a year-over-year basis, delivery’s strong performance offset the order volume declines experienced by the other two methods. The number of orders fell 7% for pickup and 3% for ship-to-home versus last year. In contrast, the 13% jump in delivery order volume during February was predominantly driven by the expansion of its monthly active users base compared to the prior year, rather than a jump in order frequency.

Due to the shifts in segment order volume and the overall declines in AOV, Pickup’s share of online grocery sales contracted to 43.4% in February, falling by 468 basis points compared to last year. Meanwhile, delivery expanded its share by 570 basis points, finishing the month with 39.3%. Ship-to-home ended February with 17.3% of online grocery sales, down 102 basis points versus 2023.  

The continued pressure on consumers’ purchasing power likely prompted the 170-basis points increase in cross-shopping between grocery (which includes supermarket and hard discount) and mass last month. During February, more than 30% of households that bought groceries online from a grocery service also did so from a mass retailer’s service. This continues a steady upward trend that has doubled the cross-shopping rate compared to pre-COVID rates.

During February, the composite grocery and mass repeat intent rate for pickup and delivery fell 850 basis points versus 2023 to 56.2%, dropping to one of the lowest levels reported in over two years. This decline in composite repeat intent rate was driven by second- and third-time customers who were significantly less likely to use the same service again within the next 30 days compared to last year’s rates.  

Mass continues to outperform grocery as the gap between their respective repeat intent rates reached a record high of more than 20 percentage points, driven by a dramatic slide in Grocery’s repeat intent rates compared to February 2023. 

About this consumer research
The Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey is an ongoing independent research initiative created and conducted by the team at Brick Meets Click and sponsored by Mercatus. 

Brick Meets Click conducted the most recent survey on February 28-29, 2024, with 1,755 adults, 18 years and older, who participated in the household’s grocery shopping, and a similar survey in February 2023, with a sample of 1,745. Results are adjusted based on internet usage among U.S. adults to account for the non-response bias associated with online surveys. Responses are geographically representative of the U.S. and weighted by age to reflect the national population of adults, 18 years and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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