28 April 2020, 10:37 AM
  • Research from Mintel reveals a “dramatic” shift in online shopping habits over the Covid-19 lockdown period – and the changes are expected to last beyond the crisis
Online grocery sales to grow 33% in 2020 as Covid-19 changes shopping habits

The online grocery market is expected to grow by 33% in 2020 to reach a value of £16.8 billion as Covid-19 changes Brits’ shopping behaviour, Mintel reveals in its latest research. The increase follows four consecutive years of slowing growth, with a historic low of just 2.9% recorded in 2019.

“Over the course of just a few months, Covid-19 has had a seismic impact on Britain’s grocery sector,” says Nick Carroll, associate director of Retail Research at Mintel. “The pandemic is giving a significant short-term boost to online grocery services, as shoppers look to avoid stores and limit their contact with the outside world.”

At the start of the coronavirus outbreak, before social distancing measures were announced, 7% of Brits had increased the total amount of online shopping. Fewer than two months later, 36% of Brits said they increased the amount of shopping they do online, while a further 9% said they have used click-and-collect more.

The dramatic change in shopping habits is expected to last beyond the crisis. “Shopper numbers in the online grocery market have plateaued in recent years as retailers struggled to get new customers to try these services. The outbreak is bringing a new audience to online grocery, and this should boost the market long term with strong growth forecast through to 2024,” Nick explains. Mintel expects the market to be worth £17.9 billion by 2024, growing by 41% over the five-year period.

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“Significant number” of older shoppers remain offline
As the online grocery market grows, it still faces challenges when it comes to older shoppers. According to Mintel’s research, 37% of UK internet users over 65 have increased the amount of online shopping they’ve done since the outbreak began, but there is still a large number of over 65s that aren’t able to access online grocery shops.

Nick says: “Older generations that had previously shied away from online grocery have, effectively, been forced to change their habits in the face of social distancing measures. While there has been a rise in online grocery shopping among the over 65s, the reality is a significant number of consumers in the older age groups have no experience shopping online for groceries and/or are not digitally native. There is a real need to ensure access to online grocery deliveries for older consumers. We’re seeing some retailers already thinking of easier ways to order goods, including phone orders for next-day delivery.”