Americans are more satisfied with their recent supermarket experiences than they were in April, according to the Fall 2020 U.S. Online & In-Store Grocery Shopping Study by research firm Retail Feedback Group (RFG). This report, the second installment in 2020, provides key insights from both online and in-store supermarket shoppers, collected during the pandemic.
Compared to April, nearly all the core experience factors for supermarkets improved, with the sharpest increases seen on a five-point scale, where five is highest, in variety/selection (4.25, up from 4.00) and value for money (4.10, up from 3.93). Overall satisfaction improved to 4.23 from 4.08.
Shoppers weighed in on several factors that help supermarkets differentiate from competitors, rating how their primary store fared. The two highest-scoring areas were providing good value for money spent and friendliness of employees, but the scores themselves were low (3.63 and 3.62, respectively, on a five-point scale).
“While we saw a rebound for overall satisfaction, and across nearly all core experience factors, supermarkets need to weigh differentiators and how to leverage them in the current environment,” says Doug Madenberg, RFG principal. “A focus on providing good value for money spent remains a must based on economic conditions. Further, although a challenging time, employee friendliness could never be more important given the high impact it has on the likelihood of shoppers to recommend the store to others.”
More consumers (39%) are shopping for food and groceries at about the same frequency as pre-pandemic than the 20% who were doing so earlier this year. But 34% shop less often (a substantial change from 55% in April), while 27% shop more often (similar to 25% earlier this year).
Nearly half (45%) of the shoppers in the survey report spending more now than they were spending pre-pandemic, a similar finding to 51% in April. A higher percentage spend about the same now (38% vs. 30%) and just 18% spend less (vs. 19% previously).
While 77% of shoppers report that they plan to continue shopping with the same frequency at supermarkets in the next year, only a third (32%) are highly confident that it is safe to shop in one, showing virtually no change from 33% earlier in the year.
Similar to earlier this year, shoppers continue to keep a supply of products on hand for longer periods of time from categories throughout the store, including fresh and shelf-stable items. For instance, 59% of shoppers now keep canned and boxed items on hand for a few months or more compared to 43% pre-pandemic. Considering frozen foods, 45% of shoppers keep a few months on hand now vs. 34% pre-pandemic.
The percentage of shoppers reporting that the supermarket had everything in stock they wanted to purchase jumped to 76%, up from 49% in earlier in the year. Online, this improved to 68%, up from 51%.
Earlier this year, half of in-store supermarket shoppers in the last 30 days also ordered groceries online. Current findings reinforce these earlier findings, as shoppers continue to use both in-store and online channels to fulfill their needs in similar proportions, a trait that is strongest among the younger and growing generations.
When asked about purchasing grocery items online in the coming year, supermarket shoppers register the lowest intent with 32% saying they will do so more (a decrease from 44% earlier this year), compared to 48% of Walmart shoppers and 54% of Amazon shoppers.
Overall satisfaction among online shoppers rebounded, up to 4.44 compared to 4.38 earlier in the year, on a five-point scale. The same held true for Amazon (4.63, up from 4.47), Walmart (4.41, up from 4.38), supermarkets (4.37, up from 4.33), and the Instacart-fulfilled subset (4.46, up from 4.35). Overall satisfaction increases with service use from 4.19 for first-time users to 4.72 among those using a service 20 or more times.
Brian Numainville, RFG Principal concludes, “As online shopping stabilized over the last several months, overall and channel satisfaction improved. Walmart benefitted most from the surge in online shopping, showing continued growth, while supermarket shoppers slipped downward with the lowest percentage of shoppers, compared to Walmart and Amazon, indicating they plan to purchase grocery online in the coming year. However, with many shoppers continuing to shop online and in-store, supermarket retailers should continue to invest in both to remain relevant and attract new customers.”