Brits’ shift to online grocery shopping is “irreversible” Waitrose says

Waitrose James Bailey covid-19 lockdown
One in four Brits now buy food and essentials at least once a week online
// Waitrose report suggests consumers are shifting increasingly towards online shopping
// 1 in 4 Brits now buy food and essentials at least once a week online

The number of UK customers opting for an online weekly grocery shop has doubled since the coronavirus lockdown, in what upmarket grocer Waitrose describes as “irreversible”.

One in four Brits now buy food and essentials at least once a week online, while more than three-quarters purchase regular household goods from supermarket websites – up from 61 per cent last year, according to a Waitrose report.

The supermarket suggested that the lockdown was the accelerator to the change in consumer habits, which are likely to have been permanently shifted.


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A total of 40 per cent of Brits said they would shop online more than they would prior to the pandemic.

The findings are based on Waitrose’s own online sales over the last year, and a poll of 2000 adults who shop across a range of retailers.

Consumers shifted to online shopping following the pandemic after it served as a way of minimising the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Many supermarkets began reserving slots for the elderly and vulnerable in an effort to ensure they received groceries.

Meanwhile, the How Britain Shops Online report revealed that the over-55 age group has seen an increase in online grocery shopping, with nearly a quarter of this group now purchasing food and essentials on the web, compared to just eight per cent in 2019.

“Even before the Covid-19 pandemic there were few retailers that wouldn’t have predicted the continued growth of ecommerce relative to physical shops,” Waitrose executive director James Bailey said.

“But what would have previously been a gradual upward climb in demand has, with the outbreak of Covid-19, turned into a trajectory more reminiscent of scaling Everest.

“One in four of us now do a grocery shop online at least once a week, double the amount in 2019. Because online shopping quickly becomes habitual these changes are irreversible.”

Waitrose is mid-way through a £100 million investment in its online division, which it said will soon account for 20 per cent of its total business – up from five per cent before the pandemic.

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