Thousands of small businesses have closed due to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. But one sector that’s seen exceptional growth is online grocery delivery.
A recent survey by RBC Capital Markets in March found that 55% of respondents had purchased groceries online, up from just 36% in 2018 and 15% in 2015 . Online grocery delivery service Instacart told CNBC that demand over the last few weeks has been the highest in the company’s history and that customer order volume is up more than 500% year-over-year.
Once a luxury, the coronavirus pandemic has transformed grocery delivery services like Instacart and Amazon Fresh into essential seemingly overnight. But whether or not grocery delivery will become mainstream in the long run will depend on how ther perform now.
“This has been a major potential customer acquisition opportunity for the Instacarts of the world, the Amazon Freshes of the world. All consumers are turning towards them to try them out,” says Mark Mahaney, managing director at RBC. “They’ll have some patience for a service that isn’t a hundred percent. I think people will be somewhat realistic about that. But if in a month or two, if Instacart and Amazon Fresh aren’t able to get their act together, you’re going to have a lot of people who’ll have tried to service, found it wanting and will go right back to the grocery stores.”
Check out the video above for more on the growth of online grocery delivery and how the sector may fair after the virus recedes.