Online grocery sales expected to jump by a third in 2020

Online grocery sales are expected to grow by around a third during 2020, due to the “seismic impact” that Covid-19 is having on people’s shopping habits.

The online grocery market is forecast to grow by 33% in 2020 to reach an estimated value of £16.8 billion, up from £12.7 billion in 2019, market research agency Mintel said.

The big jump follows four years in a row of slowing growth. In 2019 growth fell to a historic low of just 2.9%.

Mintel estimates the market will be worth £17.9 billion by 2024, growing by 41% over the five-year period.

It said recent changes in people’s shopping habits may be longlasting, with 36% of people having increased the amount of online shopping they do generally, 50% trying to limit the time they spend in-store and a further 9% using “click-and-collect” services more.

Nick Carroll, associate director of retail research at Mintel, said: “Over the course of just a few months, Covid-19 has had a seismic impact on Britain’s grocery sector.

“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.

“However, the impact will 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.

“While there is currently a significant disruption to the online grocery market, with some retailers not accepting new customers, this will ease in the short term as more capacity is brought online.”

Mintel’s research found fewer than three in 10 (28%) UK internet users aged 65-plus were online grocery shoppers before the coronavirus outbreak.

But 37% of over-65s have increased the amount of online shopping they have done since the outbreak started.

Meanwhile, a quarter (24%) of people aged under 44 have been helping friends, family and/or neighbours with their shopping.

Mintel’s latest research was carried out between February 28 and April 23.

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