August grocery e-commerce halts record-breaking pace

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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The string of record-breaking months in U.S. e-commerce grocery sales ended in August, per the latest results from the Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey. Total sales came in at $5.7 billion for the month, down from the $7.2 billion peak in June.

The results are still high for the month, closer to sales numbers the organizations reported in May and April, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The survey was held Aug. 24-26.

For August results, the average order value increased to a record high of $95 with 75% of survey respondents saying they intend to make a repeat purchase in the next month, alluding to more stock-up shopping habits.


However, compared with June, total online U.S. grocery delivery and pickup sales saw a nearly 20% drop. Brick Meets Click/Mercatus said the research also showed a decline in the percentage of households expressing a high level of concern about contracting the virus — 38% in August compared with a 47% peak level in April. 

“There is a common belief that the rapid and dramatic surge in sales caused by COVID-19, starting in mid-March, would recede at some point as stay-at-home orders and in-store shopping restrictions like occupancy limits, shortened hours and one-way aisles were relaxed,” said David Bishop, partner, Brick Meets Click. “While the August results reflect a retrenchment of sorts, the market appears positioned to begin a new growth cycle with a large base of committed shoppers.”

Though the results are lower compared to June, the survey still finds high usage of e-commerce grocery in the United States. More than 37 million U.S. households were considered monthly active users of online grocery services in August, compared with 16.1 million a year ago — a 133% year-over-year increase. The average order of $95 is 32% higher than a year ago, too.

“The rise in repeat purchases and spending means grocers are successfully acquiring new online shoppers, and equally as important, converting existing digitally engaged customers,” said Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Mercatus. “Even with diminished concern about COVID-19, grocery shoppers are realizing the benefits of a streamlined and frictionless online shopping experience. Going forward, it’s critical that grocery executives focus their teams on rewarding online shoppers by delivering a differentiated eCommerce experience that caters to consumers’ high expectations.”