Americans are once again perusing – in shop aisles rather than online. With more states in the United States abandoning mask mandates in public places and more retailers eliminating mask requirements — and the latest omicron wave that caused a spike in COVID-19 cases this winter receding — more people feel comfy shopping in person and partaking in public activities.
According to the latest Grocery Shopping Survey conducted by Mercatus and Brick Meets Click, two e-commerce analytics firms that work with grocery stores, online grocery sales in the United States fell 6% year over year to $8.7 billion in March, a sharp decline from a record high of $9.3 billion in March 2020.
Ship-to-home sales fell by more than 30% in March compared to a year ago, to $1.4 billion from $2.1 billion.
According to a poll issued this week, this loss was attributed to a 13% decline in the number of orders placed by monthly active users and a 23% decline in the average order value.
However, many individuals continued to rely on grocery delivery services. Delivery sales grew 20% year over year to $3.5 billion in March, up from $2.9 billion in February.
According to David Bishop, a partner at Brick Meets Click, the “aggressive development of third-party suppliers into supermarkets” assists consumers with online shopping.
People continue to squeeze their fruits and vegetables before purchasing. This year while online grocery will account for around 11% of $1.124 trillion in grocery purchases, that percentage is predicted to grow to 20.5 percent of $1.285 trillion in grocery sales by 2026, according to a second Mercatus analysis last year.
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Prices of food hit an all-time high.
As the Ukraine crisis continues, people have every motive to shop around for the greatest deals on groceries. According to the United Nations food agency, “conflict has pushed up worldwide prices for wheat, maize, and vegetable oils since violence in the Black Sea region has spread shocks throughout markets dealing in these essentials.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes in the most widely traded food commodities, averaged 159.3 points in March, up from a revised 141.4 points in February. February saw the index hit its highest level since 1990.
“As a result of rising wheat and coarse grain prices — mostly due to the Ukraine crisis,” the FAO noted, the FAO Cereal Price Index was 17.1% higher in March than it was a month earlier.
Russia and Ukraine contributed 30% and 20% of world wheat and maize exports, respectively, over the previous three years.
“Expectations indicate that the European Union and India will increase wheat exports, while Argentina, India, and the United States will likely increase maize exports, somewhat compensating for the loss of Black Sea region exports,” the UN food agency stated in its study.
Another notable increases were a 23.2 percent increase in the vegetable oil price index. “Palm, soy, and rapeseed oil prices also increased significantly in response to rising sunflower seed oil prices and rising crude oil prices — with soy oil prices further supported by fears about diminished South American shipments,” the FAO stated.
While in-person grocery shopping is less convenient and may result in impulsive purchases, the pricing on items is lower when compared to online shopping. There is no delivery charge or tip for the driver added to your bill.