13 figures summarising online shopping and its barriers

Mintel has released its latest data on grocery delivery, highlighting the factors that are preventing further uptake.

12 April 2019
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  • Last year, sales of online groceries in the UK hit £12.bn.
  • Online grocery accounted for 7% of total grocery retail sales in 2018, up from 6.1% in 2016.
  • But the number of Brits shopping online for groceries dropped from 49% to 45% between 2016 and 2018.
  • Younger Brits are still enthusiastic about the convenience of having groceries delivered, particularly those aged 25-34, with 61% of this group doing some online grocery shopping and over a quarter (27%) saying they do all or most of their grocery shopping online.
  • However, it seems that middle aged and older shoppers are more reluctant to join the online shopping revolution. Just over a third (35%) of those aged 45+ report buying some groceries online, while the number of Brits in this group who have “never bought groceries online and have no interest in doing so” has grown from 34% in 2015 to 42% in 2018.
  • The most common reason why consumers do not shop online is that they prefer to choose fresh products themselves (73%). There are also concerns around high delivery charges (24%) and minimum spend (18%).
  • 63% of online grocery shoppers say they have experienced an issue with an online grocery order in the past year.
  • The top complaint is missing products, with just over a quarter (26%) of online grocery shoppers experiencing this frustration. This issue was closely followed by incorrect product substitutions (25%) and out of date/short shelf life items (24%). A further one in five had received damaged goods and been inconvenienced by late deliveries.
  • The majority (85%) of those who have experienced an issue take measures to resolve it: 42% called customer service, 28% made a complaint via the retailer’s website and 15% complained via live chat/chatbot. Just under one in ten (8%) had taken to social media to air their complaints, while a nonchalant one in seven (15%) said they did nothing when faced with an issue.
  • When asked how much consumers would be willing to pay for same-day delivery, 30% of online grocery shoppers said they would pay between £1 and £2.99, while a further 27% said £3 to £4.99.
  • Just 19% of consumers would be willing to pay over £5 and 24% said they would not be willing to pay anything for same-day delivery.
  • Online sales are expected to reach £13.6bn in 2019.
  • Over the next five years, online grocery is forecast to account for 10% of all grocery shopping, with sales growing by 60% to reach £19.8m in 2023.


“Online grocery is, alongside the food discounters, one of the fastest-growing segments within the wider grocery sector. However, growth is slowing and the number of users is plateauing as retailers struggle to encourage new customers to try their services,” said Nick Carroll, associate director of Retail Research at Mintel.

“Many consumers remain reluctant to buy fresh products online, concerns around substitutions persist and delivery charges are still off-putting, particularly in a market where value is key. However, most importantly, online services are still best suited to the traditional big-basket weekly shop, at a time when consumers are increasingly shopping on a top-up or when-needed basis. That is why we are seeing more retailers launch trial services designed to tap into the potential market for same-day or small-basket online grocery delivery. The difficulty is such services, at present, are costly to both the customer and the retailer, limiting their appeal and potential geographic rollout.”

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