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May online grocery sales dip overall, but pickup sees 9.1% growth

U.S. online sales down 3.4% overall, finishing at $6.9 billion for the month


  • U.S. online grocery market finished May with $6.9 billion in total sales, down 3.4% compared to last year
  • Pickup recorded the only year-over-year growth, climbing 9.1% in overall sales
  • Ship-to-home fell 17% versus last year and delivery declined 11.7% compared to last year

The numbers are in and the month of May saw $6.9 billion in total sales for online grocery, down 3.4% compared to last year ($7.2 billion), according to a joint report from analytics firm Brick Meets Click and ecommerce technology software company Mercatus.

The study attributes the dip in overall sales for May 2023 as driven by a combination of things — fewer households buying groceries online during the month vs last year, as well as a decline in the average number of orders placed by active shoppers. 

But the results were mixed across three receiving segments. 

Pickup recorded the only year-over-year growth and captured its largest share of sales to date, climbing 9.1%. It contributed to 50.7% of total online grocery sales. 

Ship-to-home fell 17% versus last year and accounted for 16.8% of online grocery sales during the month, continuing to decline each year since 2020. 

Delivery declined 11.7% compared to last year, and its dollar share dropped nearly two points to 32.5% for the month. Interestingly, April reported a much different narrative: Delivery sales increased 20%, pickup decreased 3%, and ship-to-home plunged 19%. 

Overall repeat intent rates declined 270 basis points in May versus last year, marking the third straight month where customers indicated a lower likelihood of using the same pickup or delivery service again within the next 30 days compared to the same periods in 2022.

May CPI data: Food away-from-home sales are up

May Consumer Price Index numbers for overall grocery indicate that the food index overall rose 0.2% in May. The food-at-home index increased 0.1% over the month, following a 0.2% decrease in April. Whereas, the food away-from-home index rose 0.5% in May, and it rose 8.3% over the last year.

Over the last year, the food-at-home index rose 5.8%.s. The index breakdown for this segment shows cereals and bakery products rose 10.7% over the 12 months ending in May. 

Other categories posted increases ranging from 0.3% (meats, poultry, fish, and eggs) to 9.2% (other food-at-home). 

“The May CPI report reveals grocery prices continue to level off, with food price inflation relatively flat since February and significantly lower than the July 2022 peak,” said Andy Harigon, association vice president, tax, trade, sustainability and policy development for FMI — The Food Industry Association. “Particularly heartening is the number of items in grocery store aisles with declining prices, including eggs, cereals, meat, and dairy.” 

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