Growing number of consumers shopping online only

Shopping frequency at traditional full-service supermarkets has dipped by 2% over the past year, a recent Food Marketing Institute (FMI) study found.

During the Food Retail Implications for U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2017 presentation, FMI shared that growth in digital-only and specialty retailers has begun to cut away at general brick-and-mortar’s position as primary food destinations.

“E-commerce is substantially gaining users,” David Fikes, FMI’s VP, communications & consumer/community for affairs, said during the presentation.

Online-only food stores have jumped 6% in frequency of visits since last year.

Driving that charge is the one in four consumers who shop at such digital outlets. This represents a more than 50% increase over the last two years.

Nearly half of all Millennials are part of this shift to exclusively digital stores, an 80% boost since 2015.

The findings underscore a somewhat bleak reality for traditional grocers, which are seeing the digital age cut into margins.

However, the perimeter of brick-and-mortar locations can keep physical stores in the game.

The study found that Millennials prefer to buy fresh bakery items, meats, seafood, produce and refrigerated dairy foods at traditional stores despite much of the group’s overall digital tendencies.

The demographic also prefers to pick up non-prescription drugs at stores as well.

It’s the center store that is fighting the hardest battle for traditional retailers.

Baby food, pet products, household cleaning items, salty snacks and sweets are most likely to head to Millennial homes via the web.

The data suggests that physical stores attempting to stave off growing digital popularity and patronage should look to trimming CPG and focusing on fresh perimeter offerings. They should potentially consider bolstering specialty items as well.

“It’s one of those realities that we have to deal with and we have to understand that while we have defined food retail in a certain way for 50 years, it is being redefined for us,” Fikes said. “We can either be a part of that redefinition or we can be left out of redefinition.”

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Twitter: @DanAMX

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