Besides Christmas, Thanksgiving is the highest-selling week across all food and beverage categories in the US. The holiday has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, following a proclamation by George Washington after a request by Congress. Nowadays, around 318 million (!) whole turkeys and 250 million (!) pounds of potatoes are sold every year to mark the occasion. Such seasonal peaks are a great way to analyze how trends change or evolve over time. In this case, we’ll be looking at grocery shopping habits.
Retailers are under increasing pressure to adopt an omnichannel selling strategy that meets consumers’ convenience needs, both online and offline. A new Digital Grocery Survey released this week found that 44% of Americans plan to purchase groceries online this holiday season, up from 20% last year. Having twice as many people will go online for their Thanksgiving grocery shopping in 2018 than they did in 2017 is a massive shift in a year. However, this isn’t necessarily a substitute for physical stores. In fact, many stores will be open during the holiday. Whether people need to run to their local store for a tub of butter or a whole turkey, grocers pull all the stops to ensure they provide the best possible service exactly when it’s needed most.
According to the Digital Grocery Survey, Amazon is the top online grocery destination for shoppers (57%), followed by Walmart and Target (48%). Traditional supermarkets like Safeway and Kroger will also attract a significant number of online shoppers (30%) this holiday. While consumers are increasingly turning to e-commerce for shelf-stable products, fresh items are still purchased mostly in-store. While most consumers want to see fresh produce in store before purchasing, this is something that might change in the future – especially if grocers manage to build trust, delivering fresh produce of exceptional quality that customers can rely on.
To make Thanksgiving shopping even easier, Amazon Prime members will be able to take advantage of free, two-hour delivery with the Prime Now service. With names like Instacart and Clicklist becoming phone screen regulars, Thanksgiving shopping is no exception. Workers for Clicklist at a Kroger in Powell say they’ve seen online orders double since this time last year. In parallel, grocers are also running aggressive promotions to entice shoppers into their stores, with Safeway, ShopRite, Publix, Kroger, Stop & Shop and others either giving turkeys away as part of bundled offers or for very low prices. Amazon Prime members can save 50 cents per pound on turkeys at Whole Foods Markets – which can be reserved online and picked up in store.
As more people choose e-commerce to help them tackle their shopping lists, companies in this space will have to deliver exceptional customer service online and offline – giving customers what they want, exactly when and how they want it. As Grocery Dive points out, if customers have a good online experience during this busy time of year, it will likely translate to stronger in-store sales and brand loyalty once the holiday rush dies down.