Supermarkets’ prominence slip as online sales boost consumer preference for mass, club

According to FMI’s recently released US Grocery Shopper Trends report conducted in partnership with The Hartman Group, 49% of shoppers in 2018 and 2019 indicated that a supermarket was their primary store, but as of early 2021, that number had dropped to 39% with 61% indicating a store in another channel as their go-to for groceries.

The second most popular channel behind supermarkets is mass, which was cited by 33% of shoppers as their primary store in 2021 compared to 27% in 2018, according to the report. Club also gained prominence as the primary store for 8% of shoppers in 2021 compared to 6% in 2018. Online-only still came in last with 6% citing it as their primary store this year vs 1% in 2018.

“Online touchpoints appear to be a substantial driver of shifts away from supermarkets,”​ according to the report, which revealed the proportion of online shoppers grew from about half to almost two-thirds of adults in the past year and their frequency of buying online grew as well.

Supermarkets fall behind in online sales

While the rapid adoption of online shopping benefited retailers across channels, supermarkets fell behind mass and club when it comes to online shopping.

“Mass has the great draw of online shopping, with close to half (48%) of those shopping mass saying they purchased online from a mass store in the past three months. On the other hand, less than one-third of supermarket shoppers (31%) have placed an online order from a supermarket in the same timeframe,”​ the report shows.

Part of this shift likely was related to safety and convenience during the pandemic as mass and club allowed consumers to not only buy groceries but add to the same cart home good and other items not traditionally sold at supermarkets at the same time.



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