The supermarket chain’s report identifies the coronavirus lockdown as the catalyst for change, but finds that habits have likely been changed permanently. About 40% of people say they will buy more online now than they did before the outbreak.
The results are based on the supermarket’s own online sales over the past year and a survey of 2,000 adults who shop at a range of retailers.
Supermarkets have increased their online sales to serve millions more shoppers as fear of being infected with Covid-19 has boosted demand from more vulnerable customers, including the elderly and families avoiding public places .
The most striking increase in online grocery shopping, according to the How Britain Shops Online report, is in the over 55 age group. Nearly a quarter of this group now buy food and essentials online, up from just 8% in 2019.
James Bailey, who became executive director of Waitrose in April, amid the coronavirus lockdown, said: “Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, few retailers would not have predicted the continued growth of e-commerce compared to physical stores. But what would previously have been a gradual increase in demand has, with the outbreak of Covid-19, turned into a trajectory more reminiscent of the scaling up of Everest.
“One in four of us now shop online at least once a week, double the amount in 2019. As online shopping quickly becomes habitual, these changes are irreversible.”
The retailer, which is a jointly owned partnership by its staff, is halfway through a £ 100million investment in its online division, which it says will soon account for 20% of its total business, up from 5 % before the pandemic.
Waitrose has also reported an increase in buyers demanding speed as well as convenience. The company’s brand new Waitrose Rapid service, which allows shoppers to purchase up to 25 items for delivery within two hours (for an additional £ 5), has attracted more than 23,000 customers, a three-fold increase compared to the situation before the pandemic. .
The report also reveals that people bought more wine online during the lockdown after, perhaps, developing a thirst before noon. Orders through Waitrose Cellar are up 238% and just over a quarter of alcohol is ordered between 11 a.m. and noon for delivery later the same day.
Home cooks have explored “world cuisine” while the convenience of cooking has proven to be a huge trend; Online sales of the Waitrose Cooks Ingredient line more than doubled this year.