COVID-19 Leads to E-Grocery Boom Snapshot: China & the USA



Online grocery sales in the U.S. grew 22% in 2019 (Coresight Research U.S. Online Grocery Survey 2020) and COVID-19 lockdowns have propelled e-commerce food shopping to an even higher level.  In April 2020, e-commerce sales overall jumped 49% compared to early March before lockdowns went into effect, according to new data from Adobe’s Digital Economy Index.  Online grocery buying played an important role in this increase with daily sales jumping 110% between March and April 2020.

Adobe’s index of the digital economy analyzes more than one trillion online transactions across 100 million SKUs, and they work with 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers to gather data.
Who’s grocery shopping online?  34.9% of shoppers say they are buying more online because of the coronavirus, 14.4% say they started buying groceries online because of the virus, 40.2% say the coronavirus has had no impact on their online grocery shopping and 10.5% say they are buying less groceries online because of virus.

“The coronavirus outbreak has prompted shoppers to buy food and essentials online in greater numbers and more frequently.  By the time of our survey in mid-March, the outbreak had already encouraged just under half of online grocery shoppers to buy more groceries online or driven them to start buying online,” said Deborah Weinswig, the founder and CEO of Coresight, a New York based research group.

Where are they shopping?  Amazon remains the most frequented e-grocery shopping destination. 62.2% of consumers bought groceries online from Amazon in the past 12 months compared with 52.3% for Walmart, 22.9% for Target, 15.2% for Costco Wholesale, 13.9% for Kroger and 13.2% for Whole Foods Market according to the Coresight 2020 survey.  As a result, companies like Amazon and Walmart have hired more employees to handle the increased demand.

What’s Trending:  Customers are now buying more grocery items online from a larger selection of retailers.  This is a change from “one off” shopping to actually filling up the cart from several sources.  We find most online purchases have increased vs. one year ago: toiletries (including diapers) (63.1% of respondents bought online), household cleaning and paper products (60.8%), frozen food (41.9%), fresh fruit and vegetables (39.1%) and fresh dairy, meat, eggs and fish (38.9%).


China is now the largest e-grocery market in the world and continues to grow so it’s well worth taking time to study this market. It is now expected to grow 62.9% in 2020 to 264 billion yuan compared to a 29.2% growth in 2019 according to iiMedia Research.

During January and February 2020, online sales of food items increased 26.4% compared to 20.2% in the same period a year earlier.  This was during Chinese New Year (January 25/26) and when COVID-19 lockdowns first went into effect, so more people were eating at home. Alibaba’s Freshippo, for example, saw daily average users increase to a record 2.95 million, (a 127.5% year on year rise) in the January/February 2020 period.

Who’s Shopping Online?  Previously 94% of the shoppers online were in the 25-34 age group but now 72% are in the 55-65- year-old age group.  The younger generation is still more willing to explore new platforms and delivery services (63%) while only 28% of the older age group will do so.  For example, WeChat groups are popular and have developed group buying channels for residential communities leading to expanding shopping online.

Where are they shopping?  The traditional market leaders like Tmall, Taobao and JD (backed by Tencent) and other well-established players like Dmall and Suning remain popular with consumers, but there are new players on the scene as well.  MissFresh for example, just announced a new funding round of $495 million led by a state-backed fund, China International Capital Corporation and other investors include Tencent and Abu Dhabi Capital Group.  MissFresh has placed mini-warehouses close to consumers and is able to offer 30-minute delivery across 16 Chinese cities.

Competing in e-grocery delivery isn’t all that easy. It requires investment in large-scale cold chains for one thing which is why the most successful are backed by or are in collaboration with an internet giant.  MissFresh, for example is well integrated into Tencent’s WeChat messenger.

Alibaba’s grocery arm Freshippo naturally experienced a surge in demand and believes that more people, especially the older generation will try, experience and continue to shop online. And the Chinese government has also been active promoting online sales by distributing electronic consumption vouchers to the public.

What’s Trending:  Alibaba believes that consumers are becoming more health conscious in general due to the pandemic.

According to Freshippo CEO and Alibaba Group Vice President Hou Yi, “Apart from learning and increasingly preparing their own meals at home, the growing availability of healthy snacks, organic and low-fat food options is also something appreciated by the consumers.  Freshippo is looking at developing or introducing even more products in this range to answer consumer’s changing preferences.” This also opens the door to emerging, smaller e-commerce players who specialize in niche health products.

Alibaba also forecasts a resurgence in home cooking as an area of major growth even after life returns to normal post COVID-19.  This fits with a healthier lifestyle and less fast food and eating on the run.

Despite the sharp uptick in popularity of online grocery shopping, most consumers still prefer to frequent their local grocery store or market of choice. Yet it is apparent that the convenience of grocery e-commerce has its place and that a shift is underway – it’s definitely something to keep on our radar.

Lily Noon



  1. Online Grocery sales to Grow 40% in 2020, Supermarket News –
  2. Digital Transformation: Alibaba Predicts Boom in China Retail Digitisation and Healthy Foods Due to COVID-19, Food Navigator Asia –
  3. Miss Fresh Racks Up $495 Million in Funding as China’s E-grocery Booms, TechCrunch –

米国では2019年、食料品のオンライン売上高が22%増となりました(Coresight Researchが実施した2020年米国の食料品オンライン販売調査)。しかし、新型コロナウイルス感染症対策のロックダウンを受けて、食料品のオンラインショッピング市場はさらに拡大しています。アドビの「Digital Economy Index」の最新データによると、2020年4月時点でEコマース全体の売上高は、ロックダウン開始前の3月初旬と比べ49%増でした。食料品のオンライン販売は、この増加において重要な役割を果たしました。1日あたりの売上高は、2020年3月と4月の間で110%増となっています。

アドビのDigital Economy Indexは、1億種類以上の商品にわたる1兆件以上のオンライン取引を分析しています。このデータ収集に際しては、米国のオンライン小売業者トップ100のうち80社が協力しています。

誰がオンラインで食料品を購入しているのか? 新型コロナのためにオンラインでの購入が増えたと答えた消費者は34.9%、食料品をオンラインで買い始めたと答えた消費者は14.4%に上っています。一方、新型コロナがオンラインでの食料品購入に特に影響していないと答えた人は40.2%、食料品のオンライン購入がむしろ減ったと答えた人は10.5%でした。



どこで購入しているのか? アマゾンは、食料品のオンライン購入者が最も頻繁に利用するウェブサイトであり続けています。Coresightの2020年の調査によると、消費者の62.2%は、過去12カ月以内にアマゾンで食料品を購入したことがありました。以下、ウォルマートで購入したことがある人は52.3%、ターゲットは22.9%、コストコは15.2%、クローガーは13.9%、ホールフーズは13.2%でした。この結果、アマゾンやウォルマートなどの企業は、需要増に対応するための人員を増やしています。

何が買われているか? 消費者は、さまざまな小売店から多数の食料品を購入するようになっています。これまでは「単発」のショッピングだったのが、最近では複数のウェブサイトでショッピングカートに大量の商品を入れる傾向に変化しました。ほとんどのオンライン購入が、1年前と比べて増えています。トイレタリー用品(紙おむつを含む)は回答者の63.1%がオンラインで購入していて、以下、清掃・掃除用品および紙製品は60.8%、冷凍食品は41.9%、生鮮の野菜・果物は39.1%、生鮮の乳製品・肉・卵・魚は38.9%でした。


中国は、今や世界最大の食料品オンライン販売市場であり、成長を続けているため、この市場を調査することには意義があります。iiMedia Researchによると、2020年は62.9%成長して2,640億元に到達する見込みです。2019年は29.2%の成長でした。


誰がオンラインで購入しているのか? 以前はオンライン購入者の94%が25~34歳でしたが、今は72%が55~65歳です。若い世代は、今も新しいプラットフォームや宅配サービスを試してみる意欲がありますが(63%)、年配の世代では、その割合がわずか28%でした。例えば、WeChatのグループは人気を博していて、住宅地のコミュニティを対象とした共同購入のチャネルを開発した結果、オンラインショッピングを拡大しました。

どこで購入しているのか? Tmall、Taobao、JD(テンセント傘下)などのこれまでのマーケットリーダーや、DmallやSuningなどのすでに確立したウェブサイトは、今も消費者の間で人気を維持していますが、新しいウェブサイトも登場しています。例えば、MissFreshは先頃、国有投資銀行の中国国際金融股份有限公司が率いた資金調達で、テンセントやAbu Dhabi Capital Groupなどから4億9,500万ドルの出資を受けました。MissFreshは、消費者が集中する16都市に小規模な配送センターを設置して、30分配送を実現しています。



何が買われているか? パンデミックを受けて消費者の健康志向が一般に高まりつつあると、アリババは説明しています。




Lily Noon




  1. Online Grocery sales to Grow 40% in 2020(食料品のオンライン売上高が2020年は40%増に) Supermarket News –
  2. Digital Transformation: Alibaba Predicts Boom in China Retail Digitisation and Healthy Foods Due to COVID-19(デジタルトランスフォーメーション:新型コロナによる中国の小売りデジタル化とヘルシーな食品の成長をアリババが予測) Food Navigator Asia –
  3. Miss Fresh Racks Up $495 Million in Funding as Chinas E-grocery BoomsMiss Fresh49,500万ドルを調達、中国の食料品オンライン販売成長を受けて) TechCrunch –

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