The pandemic changed every aspect of our lives, and that includes how we shop. During this period, and especially those of the lockdowns, getting grocery delivery became a necessity. Those self-isolating due to Covid-19 became largely reliant on the delivery industry to provide them with everything that their household needed to keep going.
We explore further below exactly how the grocery delivery industry has changed. And whether this is likely to be a permanent shift.
While the grocery delivery industry was by no means struggling, pre-pandemic. However, the number of people now using these services has rocketed in the wake of the virus.
The need for vast swathes of people to self-isolate was one of the most obvious driving factors behind this spike. Added to this, even those who weren’t in isolation (especially those who were considered to be vulnerable) chose to switch to online grocery shopping. They did this to avoid the risk of coming into contact with the infection. Many people still remain wary of busy spaces and seek to avoid shopping in person where possible.
A further effect of the pandemic was the increasing numbers of people cooking at home. This was due to the closure of restaurants and other outlets. This has the effect of pushing up the need for grocery delivery, as did an increasing demand for additional hygiene products. For example, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Stockpiling also created a spike in demand for delivered groceries. Many people were keen to maintain a cache of basic necessities.
The grocery delivery industry reacted quickly to the changing situation. Widening delivery provision both geographically and in terms of the amounts of delivery slots available. Further to this, food retailers that didn't have an online delivery service got on board and began offering delivery, too.
General provision was up-leveled in every way. For example, the online grocery store Sam’s Club delivers, in many cases, within just an hour of ordering. Many retailers also expanded the ranges available to purchase online. Some also add ‘eco’ delivery slots, allowing buyers to book their delivery at a time when a van was already scheduled to be in their area.
All of these things helped to encourage more people than ever before to order their groceries online. In fact, most of these customers have kept to this way of buying even as the effects of the pandemic wane.
It’s not just the pandemic that has pushed many people to view online, grocery delivery, and shopping as a necessity rather than a luxury. Increasingly busy lifestyles, longer working hours, and family commitments all contribute to time pressures. These pressures often make visiting a supermarket or other store in-person tricky.
Being able to order groceries on the go and whenever is convenient has become essential for many individuals and families. Tech has helped this along, too, with voice-activated devices able to quickly order for us when required and saved ‘favorites’ and ‘shopping lists,’ making ordering a weekly shop as simple as a couple of mouse clicks.
The pandemic put a huge squeeze on many households. And now, with the cost of living seemingly rising by the day, budgets remain tight. This is another way in which the grocery delivery industry is shifting from luxury to necessity. Buying online allows for big savings that are now vital for many people to be able to complete their weekly shop.
There are several ways that online grocery shopping equals the potential to save money. Firstly, there’s no ‘temptation factor’ that’s inherent in an in-person shop. Often tasty treats and appealing items are in visible spots and just so easy to pop into our trolleys. Pester power is also nonexistent, as is the hard-to-resist desire of adding a couple of snacks to our basket to eat on the way home from the store if we’re feeling peckish.
Secondly, there tends to be more scope to buy in bulk when shopping online. Therefore, enabling you to access potentially significant savings. Especially as there’s no need to let the logistics of fitting all those items into your vehicle to get home hinder you.
And finally, online shopping saves you the cost of fuel to get to the store and back. Thus, if you live some distance away from your local supermarket, this could equal a big saving on your gas bill over a month.
The ability to order grocery delivery online will likely be seen as a necessity by consumers for the foreseeable future. The understandable residual anxiety that many shoppers may still feel about venturing into spaces where there could be many other people is part of this. However, it is the convenience of this option that the public has come to expect.
It is probable that advances in tech will continue to drive the spike in online shopping in all areas. Virtual showrooms and augmented reality are no doubt soon becoming the standard model. Soon, we may only engage with retailers and service providers from all sectors online.