This Surprise Factor Is Helping Fuel a Surge in Online Grocery Shopping

Woman who ordered groceries online
VGstockstudio /

Online grocery shopping is on a tear.

A startling 73% of consumers said they had bought grocery items online within the most recent three months, according to a survey of nearly 8,000 shoppers by PowerReviews, a company that provides consumer feedback for e-commerce.

That’s a more than four-fold jump from the 17% of respondents who said they were using online grocery shopping when asked in 2017.

The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be a major factor in the huge shift toward online grocery shopping, with 61% of survey respondents saying they shop for groceries online more now than they did prior to the emergence of the coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.

When asked why they have shifted to shopping online for groceries, respondents most often cited time savings (59%) and personal safety (49%).

But a surprise third factor was a desire to avoid impulse purchases, with 31% of shoppers citing it as a reason to steer clear of brick-and-mortar stores.

We mentioned this virtue of shopping online for groceries in our story “8 Ways to Stop Buying Things You Don’t Need.” As we reported:

“If you tend to go to the grocery store for specific items and end up stocking your cart with extras, going digital for a while might help you curb your spending. When you order groceries online, whether you get them delivered or pick them up curbside, you can stick to just what’s on your list and eyeball the total before hitting ‘place order.'”

However, it would be a mistake to conclude that the growth of online grocery shopping is about to doom traditional ways of purchasing groceries.

A nearly universal 95% of consumers who shopped for groceries online in the past three months also made an in-store grocery purchase during that time period, according to the PowerReviews survey.

For more on how to get the most from online grocery shopping, check out “The 5 Best Grocery Delivery Services.”

And for more tips to rein in your supermarket spending, check out “13 Unusual but Effective Ways to Save on Groceries.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.