Pandemic Sparks Explosive Increase in Grocery Delivery

In the post-pandemic era that includes ultra-high inflation and exorbitant interest rates, Americans are spending more than ever for the convenience of having groceries, meals and household items delivered to their homes. The average delivery service customer is spending over $400 a month in 2023, up from $157 a month in 2021 according to a recent survey from LendingTree. 

Online food delivery generated $160 billion in revenue in 2022, and it is projected to rise to $484 billion by 2032. Delivery fees, service fees, and tips make up about 36 percent of food delivery costs. The average consumer spends about $1,850 per year on food delivery. 

The coronavirus pandemic and government lockdowns the ensued sparked an explosion in grocery delivery and pickup sales in the U.S. In August 2019, sales were at $1.2 billion and by June 2020, that figure skyrocketed to $7.2 billion. Since then, sales have flattened out but have never gone below $5.3 billion per month. The all-time high was of $7.6 billion was reached in December 2022 and the latest figures from May 2023 were at $5.7 billion. 

For seniors and individuals that are homebound, there are a number of options to receive free home delivery of groceries. The federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers seniors the option to have someone they trust use their EBT card to shop and bring groceries home to them. Other government options include Meals on Wheels, Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and your local Area Agency on Aging. Community resources include food banks, churches, non-profits, and senior centers. Amazon and Instacart also offer options for free grocery delivery. 

In addition to Amazon and Instacart, other popular grocery delivery services include Shipt, Burpy, Jet, and FreshDirect. There are a number of meal kit delivery services available, offering options with pre-portioned ingredients for recipes that seniors and anyone else can cook. Prepared meals are also offered at a number of businesses.

The pandemic not only dramatically increased the amount U.S. consumers spend online, but it also shifted how they did their grocery shopping. Between March 2020 and February 2022, American consumers spent $1.7 trillion online, with $32 billion of that due to skyrocketing inflation. That is over $600 billion more than they spent in 2018 and 2019 combined. Spending was expected to top $1 trillion in 2022.