The days of heading to the supermarket are over for some Brits as they trade trolleys for home delivery. Indeed, new research from Mintel reveals that 29% of UK online grocery shoppers are shopping for their groceries more online now* than 12 months ago.

And online tills are ringing as a result, with online grocery sales forecast to reach £9.8 billion in 2016, up 13% from an estimated £8.6 billion in 2015. What’s more, sales are forecast to grow a further 73% to reach £15 billion by 2020. Online-only grocery retailers are particularly benefiting from sofa surfing, with sales increasing 110% from £1.1 billion in 2010, to an estimated £2.3 billion in 2015. Currently, online grocery shopping accounts for 6% of total grocery sector sales in 2015, up from 3% in 2010.

Today, as many as half (48%) of Brits are current online grocery shoppers. One in ten (11%) do all of their grocery shopping online, with a further 12% doing most of their grocery shopping online. And it is younger consumers that are shunning the supermarket trip: one fifth (19%) of 25-34 year olds now doing all of their grocery shopping online, with 36% of this group shopping for groceries online more often now than 12 months ago.

The main reason consumers cite for shopping online more is convenience, with 60% of Brits who are shopping more online doing so because it is more convenient than visiting stores. This is followed by the fact that online shopping allows consumers to keep better track of how much they’re spending (33%) and the wider variety of delivery slots available (32%).

Online grocery shopping accounts for 6% of total grocery sector sales in 2015

Nick Carroll, Retail Analyst at Mintel, said:

“The online grocery market continues to grow in double digits, but remains small in the context of the wider grocery market. However, the shift away from superstores to more convenient shopping channels is certainly benefiting the market with the majority of consumers now doing some grocery shopping online and almost a third saying that they now shop online more than a year ago. The majority of online shoppers still mix online shopping with store-based shopping, but consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable shopping at online-only retailers with growth outpacing the total market.”

Not all consumers are ditching the trip to the shops however, with as many as one quarter (24%) of Brits having never bought groceries online and having no interest in doing so, rising to 38% of over 55s. Additionally, 11% of UK online grocery shoppers are shopping online less now than 12 months ago.

Two fifths (38%) of those who are shopping for groceries online less or who have stopped shopping for groceries online have done so because of the lack of control when choosing fresh products, while one quarter are put off by high delivery charges (26%) or have begun shopping more at discount grocery retailers (25%).

The lack of control when selecting fresh food and drink products remains one of the biggest issues for online grocery retailing and not one that is easy to address. All of the major players now offer some form of freshness guarantee but this is still not a substitute for picking your own. Inevitably, due to the volume of orders the major retailers now have to process, not all products or orders live up to expectations. Additionally, the discounters have obviously been a disrupting force in the grocery sector for a number of years, and it seems that online grocery retailers are not immune to the impact discounters are having on the market.” Nick continues.

Finally, it seems that Brits are responding to delivery passes from retailers, entitling them to discounted delivery rates. As many as one fifth (21%) of those who shop for online groceries at retailers that offer a delivery pass currently own one and a further 29% don’t, but would be interested in having one in the future.

“As we see Brits turning away from the main weekly shop and towards fluid, when-needed shopping, it is important for online grocery retailers to find a way to engage with these consumers. A wider proliferation of delivery passes may be one way in which retailers can do so as it makes more frequent online grocery shops viable.” Nick concludes.

*December 2015

Press review copies of the  Online Grocery Retailing UK 2016 report and interviews with Retail Analyst Nick Carroll are available on request from the press office.

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