FMI: Online grocery sales jumped 300% early in pandemic

Food retailers expect e-commerce growth to continue, 2020 Industry Speaks report finds


Russell Redman, Supermarket News 

Oct 09, 2020


Online grocery sales tripled in the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic as food retailers ramped up an already growing e-commerce business, according to FMI-The Food Industry Association’s Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2020 report.


The annual study, released this week, captured food retailers’ and wholesalers’ initial response to the coronavirus outbreak, as the survey portion of the research — representing more than 37,000 food retail stores — was delayed by several months, until June. “Because of that change, this year’s feedback benefits from retailer insights about the first few months of the pandemic,” FMI said in the report.


On the e-commerce side, food retailers’ saw online sales jump an average of more than 300% in the first several months of the crisis. “The pandemic suddenly and profoundly changed online grocery shopping. Virtually all retailers with online sales saw an increase in these sales during the first months of the pandemic,” the study said.


To meet the demand crush, 83% of retailers surveyed said they added more staff to handle online fulfillment, and 37% earmarked more workers to handle delivery of online orders. FMI noted that, with shelter-in-place and stricter social distancing guidance in effect early in the pandemic, more than half of retailers (51%) urged customers to order online.


In turn, to meet changing shoppers needs and desires, 24% of food retailers reported offering more SKUs online. Some retailers also added new delivery methods, including store pickup (19%) and third-party delivery (16%).


“E-commerce was already advancing for food retailers before the pandemic, and it exploded during the early months of the crisis period,” the 2020 FMI Speaks report said...


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