‘Three quarters of UK does grocery shopping online’


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More than three quarters of people in the UK now do at least some online grocery shopping, according to supermarket chain Waitrose.

It said the growth in online supermarket shopping due to coronavirus was “reminiscent of scaling Everest”.

Separate research suggests almost half of consumers feel their shopping habits will change permanently due to the crisis.

Retail Economics said many retailers were “scrambling” to adapt.

The coronavirus lockdown which began in March saw a massive jump in demand for online grocery deliveries as people sought to minimise trips to supermarkets.

Waitrose polled 2,000 people across the UK and found that 77% now do at least some of their grocery shopping online, compared with 61% the year before.

Shopping trends

The biggest shift towards online supermarket shopping was in the over-55 age group, where regular online shopping nearly trebled.

However, there was also a big rise among 35 to 44 year olds, with 32% now doing at least one online shop each week.

According to Waitrose, online shopping was becoming more common before the crisis began, but the pandemic had accelerated the trend.

The supermarket chain, which sells online via Ocado, said it expected the shift to become permanent.

“Because online shopping quickly becomes habitual – these changes are irreversible,” said Waitrose & Partners executive director James Bailey.

‘Frightening pace’

A separate piece of research by Retail Economics, on behalf of technology firm O2, found that almost half of consumers feel that the pandemic will have a permanent effect on the way they shop.

“Consumer behaviour is evolving at a frightening pace and the single largest challenge for retailers is to meet, if not exceed, customers’ expectations,” said Retail Economics boss Richard Lim.

The research firm said many retailers had struggled to meet online demand during lockdown, “as competition narrowed and many establishments shut their doors”.

It said the sudden acceleration of online shopping “will continue to be the biggest threat to retailers”, as those who do not keep up could be left behind.

Retailers have said before that the pandemic could make the switch to online shopping permanent.

In June, Ocado said the coronavirus lockdown had led to a “permanent redrawing” of the retail landscape.