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Mass retailers beat out supermarkets in grocery sales in November

The November sales numbers are a reversal from May, when supermarkets bested mass retailers by 390 basis points

Inflation-weary grocery shoppers are increasingly turning to mass retail grocers, like Walmart, for their online and in-store purchases, and in November, 42% of households did so, beating their supermarket counterparts by 390 basis points, according to the monthly Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey.

The report noted that online grocery sales were up 5.2% year over year in November to $8.1 billion, and mass retailers surpassed grocery stores as the top format for grocery purchases when considering both online and in-store dollars spent. 

Mass merchandisers’ success in November over grocery stores, which captured 39% of the market for the month, is a reversal from May, when grocers held 42% of the market and mass merchandisers 39%, according to the report.

“The current economic realities and omnichannel strategies are aiding mass retailers in attracting more customers today,” said David Bishop, partner at Brick Meets Click, in a statement. “The price advantage that a mass rival, such as Walmart, enjoys is motivating cash-strapped households to shift where they shop, and mass customer engagement strategies are making it easier for those customers to shop the way they want.”

Delivery sales growth was up 8.6% year over year in November, a development driven by a growing active user base. The increase in users helped grow order volume by 7.5% despite the average order value increase of just 1%, the report noted. 

This raised the delivery method for online grocery sales by 250 basis points to 33%. This year-over-year increase was largely due to Walmart’s expansion of first-party delivery service and national grocers enjoying an increase in membership and subscription offers, the report noted. 

Pickup sales grew slower in November by 1.6%, driven in part by an 11.8% growth in average order volume. Monthly active users for the category declined modestly, dropping 9.2% from the same time last year. Despite ceding 350 basis points, pickup remained the sales share leader with 38% of online sales.  

Mass retailers continued to see strong growth in its monthly average user base, which expanded 14% for the month, while supermarkets saw their monthly active user base decline by 14% year over year. Meanwhile, the average order value for mass retailers grew by 9% across both delivery and pickup services, while supermarkets were up 5.6% year over year. 

“Considering the challenges regional grocers face today in acquiring and retaining customers, it's worth recalling the phrase ’A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,’” said Sylvain Perrier, Mercatus president and CEO, in a statement. “This adage underscores the importance of paying closer attention to current customers' expectations for online services and then delivering the kind of experience they want. While easier said than done, it requires a clear strategy and plan to execute!”

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