Executive Briefing

Online grocery shopping is a pandemic-era behavior that actually stuck

Thrive Market, the Whole Foods of e-commerce, now has 1.2 million members. How does it fit into the future of grocery? Also: Great Jones’ new ‘Pantry Pals’.

Thrive Market products
Courtesy Thrive Market

One of the Covid-era behaviors that’s actually stuck: Americans are still buying far more food and beverages online than they did before the pandemic.

Most people still do most of their grocery shopping offline, in grocery stores. But grocery e-commerce got a huge boost in the early days of the pandemic and has maintained most of its share gains. People like convenience, it turns out!

In the US, e-commerce currently represents about 13% of grocery spending, according to Earnest Research, which tracks consumer spending via credit and debit card data. That’s up from around 7% of grocery spending in late 2019, though down from a peak around 17% in early 2021, before vaccines widely rolled out.

Chart of the Day

E-commerce share of US grocery spending

Why we care: In the trillion-dollar-a-year US grocery market, each percentage point that moves online represents roughly $10 billion in annual spending. And as money goes online, it often goes to different places than it did offline. This sustained shift, then, has huge long-term implications for merchants, brands, and consumers.

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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

I’m a longtime tech and business journalist, and I’m excited to focus my attention on how technology continues to profoundly change how things are created, experienced, bought, and sold. The New Consumer is supported entirely by your membership — join now to receive my reporting, analysis, and commentary directly in your inbox, via my member-exclusive newsletter. Thanks in advance.

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