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Researchers expect grocery delivery services to grow beyond the pandemic

Data shows that during the shutdowns, consumers bonded with companies bringing them food

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In 2019, Mintel, a research and consulting firm reported that online grocery shopping and delivery had begun to slow. Months later, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in America and that changed almost overnight.

Now that the economy has reopened and consumers are reverting to much of their 2019 behavior, one thing that hasn’t changed is consumers’ appetite for grocery delivery services.

“While some new online grocery shoppers will revert back to stores, conversion will stick for many as in-store safety concerns linger and newfound purchase habits become routines. Leading retailers will continue to invest more in infrastructure improvements including tools and technology, fulfillment space and personnel,” Mintel said in its latest report, which shows 90% of British shoppers plan to continue online grocery shopping.

In a recent report of its own, Instacart, a food delivery service, said consumers developed a strong bond with the company in the early days of the pandemic when fear and anxiety kept many people in their homes.

‘Sense of gratitude’

“However, feelings of fear and uncertainty were paired with and eventually gave way to an overwhelming sense of gratitude toward the essential shoppers picking and delivering their groceries,” said Instacart’s Laurentia Romaniuk, when the report was issued in April. “Use of the word ‘grateful’ increased across Instacart shopper chats to six times its normal usage and remains much higher than pre-pandemic averages a full twelve months later.”

Reliance on grocery delivery services also shows up in reviews posted at ConsumerAffairs. Robbin, of Grand Blanc, Mich, recently told us she has come to rely on Walmart’s grocery delivery service.

“I'm disabled so the home grocery delivery service is vital to me,” Robbin wrote in a recent post. “Everything that I order is always in stock, if not Walmart always makes up for it with substitutes of equal price or greater value.”

The future of grocery delivery appears to be bright enough that companies are investing in infrastructure to support it. Vroom Delivery has announced it is partnering with Tortoise to launch a last-mile grocery delivery service in Dallas in the months ahead.

The companies say the autonomous delivery pods will provide grocery staples such as milk and eggs, as well as beverages, ice cream, and snacks.  Most will be delivered in one hour or less.

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