America Is Becoming a Nation of Online Grocery Shoppers

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Photo by: demaerre ©demaerre

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Do you shop for groceries online? If so, you are among a rapidly growing group of Americans. Fully 31 percent of U.S. adults — and 45 percent of all Internet shoppers — say they have bought food products online in the past six months, according to a Harris Poll survey conducted in June.

Some groups are more into clicking their way to a full fridge than others. Not surprisingly, the trend is big with Millennials, 36 percent of whom shop for groceries online. College grads (35 percent) are more apt to shop online than those with a high school education or less (26 percent). Parents (37 percent) shop for groceries online at a higher rate than people who do not have children (28 percent), which makes total sense (many mouths plus time equals pressure).

Location matters, too: City dwellers (38 percent) do their grocery shopping online in greater numbers than either suburban (30 percent) or rural (25 percent) shoppers, though that may, of course, be a matter of available services in addition to cultural trends.

Most online shoppers favor food purchases that have long shelf lives or are nonperishable (49 percent), the Harris Poll survey found. Shoppers also prefer items that are challenging to find (48 percent), easily shipped (39 percent), an item they’re not in a hurry to use (32 percent) or something they like to keep a stock of at all times (31 percent). An impressive number of us (34 percent) are willing to try new brands — whether familiar to us or not. Then again, 32 percent of online shoppers are willing to buy only brands they already know and love.

So are we declining en masse to schlep to the grocery store, and instead packing our pantries from the comfort of our office cubicles and kitchen computer cubbies? Will formerly bustling supermarket parking lots soon be car-free ghost towns with old plastic grocery bags rolling across parched pavement like tumbleweeds? Relax. It’s not quite that dramatic … yet.

While 10 percent of Americans in general and 29 percent of online food shoppers say they’ve replaced regular trips to the grocery store with online shopping, most (52 percent) online shoppers say they usually shop online for something they are unable to find at their local supermarket. Twenty-four percent of us turn to online shopping when we’re running low on a key item, Harris notes. It’s pragmatic, people.

And what about those who really just aren’t into shopping for groceries online (you know who you are)? Most (59 percent) of them say they prefer to select their own fruits and vegetables, and 49 percent of them “like to touch, smell, and see” the foods they purchase, according to a Brick Meets Click survey recently cited by Business Insider. Thirty-nine percent of those who decline to shop for groceries online say they do so because they “want to take advantage of special in-store deals,” according to that survey.

In other words, while online grocery shopping is definitely gaining ground, there continue to be some for whom the concept just hasn’t quite … clicked.

Photo courtesy of iStock

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