COVID-19 and U.S. online grocery orders

Online pasta orders increased by almost 700% between January-March 2019 and January-March 2020

It has been four months since the dawn of the corona crisis and nobody seriously questions anymore that certain online businesses are among the winners of the lockdown scenarios – first and foremost online grocery and personal care stores. Especially during the first lockdown phase, the web presences of supermarkets, drugstores and the like saw a significant increase in traffic and revenue. In Germany, for example, online sales of groceries were 56% higher in March 2020 than in the same month of the previous year (see the ecommerceDB news article Corona – winners and losers in eCommerce for reference).

The New-York-based food-tech company Chicory conducted research on online grocery orders in the United States during the most critical phase of the coronavirus outbreak from the start of the year up to March 2020, when most countries introduced lockdowns and contact bans. The survey compares the percentage changes of online orders of certain foods between January-March 2019 and January-March 2020. With people stocking up on essentials and emptying supermarket shelves, it is hardly surprising that a similar trend was observable in eCommerce.

COVID-19 and U.S. online grocery orders
Non-perishables turned out to be just as popular in eCommerce as they were in physical stores: Canned foods with long shelf-lives were among the top selling products and recorded rises in orders of solid triple-digit percentages. Canned crushed tomatoes, for example, were ordered 316% more often in the first quarter of 2020 compared to 2019. The percentage change between Q1/2019 and Q1/2020 of orders of canned green chiles was 235% and canned black beans increased by 163%. Evaporated milk, frozen pizza, and dried fruit also recorded significant increases of 287%, 181%, and 145%, respectively. The clear winner, however, was pasta, with a percentage change in online orders of +699%.

The interest in some fresh products also increased, yet on a far smaller scale: Orders of tomatoes, chicken and eggs increased by just above 80%. Eggplants and cucumbers were bought less than in 2019, recording a decrease of -13% and -34%, respectively.


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April 2020