A recent report has found that the number of UK consumers who do a weekly grocery shop online has doubled since the coronavirus lockdown. These findings are supported by Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest polling of Great Britain, which found that a plurality (43%) of Brits are now doing less in-person food shopping than they were before the pandemic. This contrasts to 40% are doing just as much in-person food shopping as before, and to the 13% who are actually doing more of their food shopping in-person than before the pandemic.
Almost half (49%) of respondents aged 65 or older are doing less food-shopping in-person than before the pandemic. Although a clear plurality of 18-to-24 year-olds (43%) and 25-to-34 year-olds (39%) are doing less in-person food shopping than before, a significant minority of them (19-26%) are actually doing more in-person food shopping than before, which may indicate that some of those less susceptible to the virus are taking advantage of quieter supermarkets, or perhaps that they are now finding themselves doing the grocery shopping for older relatives and neighbours.
Among respondents who are now purchasing fewer of their groceries in person, a clear majority (55%) are doing so because they are doing more of their food shopping online. For around a quarter (24%), they are purchasing less food in person at supermarkets because they are purchasing less food altogether, which could be read as a worrying sign of the economic impact that the pandemic has had on many families.
A majority (56%) of older respondents aged 65+ are doing more food-shopping online, which indicates that older people have been quick to adopt modern forms of retail. In addition, older people may have benefitted from greater accessibility to online deliveries, as some supermarkets have set aside a significant proportion of delivery slots for elderly shoppers.
Overall, a significant proportion of UK respondents across all demographics are doing less in-person food shopping than before the pandemic. According to Waitrose, this shift is “irreversible”. As shoppers have increasingly sought to buy their groceries online, supermarkets have adopted to changing trends through expanding their delivery services, therefore turning the crisis into an opportunity to reach new customers in innovative ways, and showcasing the adaptability of the sector.