12 April 2019, 10:04 AM
  • Mintel research shows that the number of customers shopping online for groceries dropped to 45% between 2015 and 2018
Growth in online grocery sector slowing

New research from Mintel has revealed that sales of online groceries in the UK rose last year, up to £12.3bn, up from 9% in 2017. Online grocery accounted for 7% of total grocery retail sales in 2018, and the forecast is that this figure will rise to 10% over the next five years.

However while sales are on the up, the number of customers shopping online for groceries has in fact dropped from 48% to 45% between 2015 and 2018.

According to the research, Brits in the younger generation aged between 25-34 are still keen to shop online, with 61% of this group doing some online grocery shopping. This is compared with those in the 45+ category, where only 35% have bought some groceries online and those that have “never bought groceries online and have no interest in doing so” has grown from 34% in 2015 to 42% in 2018.

According to Mintel research, the most common reason why consumers do not shop on the internet is that they prefer to choose fresh products themselves (73%). There are also concerns around high delivery charges (24%) and minimum spend (18%). It has also been revealed that almost two thirds (63%) of online shoppers have experienced an issue with their order in the past year.


Nick Carroll, associate director of retail research at Mintel, said: “Online grocery is, alongside the food discounters, one of the fastest-growing segments within the wider grocery sector. However, growth is slowing and the number of users is plateauing as retailers struggle to encourage new customers to try their services. Many consumers remain reluctant to buy fresh products online, concerns around substitutions persist and delivery charges are still off-putting, particularly in a market where value is key.”

“However, most importantly, online services are still best suited to the traditional big-basket weekly shop, at a time when consumers are increasingly shopping on a top-up or when-needed basis. That is why we are seeing more retailers launch trial services designed to tap into the potential market for same-day or small-basket online grocery delivery. The difficulty is such services, at present, are costly to both the customer and the retailer, limiting their appeal and potential geographic rollout.”