Last year, 2% of Puget Sound households received a grocery delivery and 1% received a meal or other food delivery on an average weekday, numbers that have likely increased amid the coronavirus pandemic – though many people still see grocery shopping trips as essential.

The Puget Sound Regional Council’s Household Travel Survey asked 3,044 King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap county households for data on their movements, shopping habits and use of home delivery services in spring 2019. The percentage who said they were getting food delivered — groceries or meals — changed little from the last installment of the survey in 2017. Meanwhile, 30% of survey respondents said they received a package on an average weekday last year, up from 20% in 2017.

“The tiny percentage of households ordering provisions via computer or smartphone might be surprising — especially here in the middle of Amazon country,” the PSRC noted in a post accompanying the new survey data, adding that the numbers are in line with national surveys. But there’s the obvious caveat: “These are pre-COVID-19 numbers; the pandemic may have spurred more people to try these delivery services since the survey.”

More than half of the 1,152 U.S. consumers surveyed by Coresight Research in mid-March had purchased groceries online in the prior year, and nearly 63% planned to in the next 12 months.

Among those already grocery shopping online, 35% said they were doing so more because of the pandemic and 14% said it had prompted them to start. An additional nearly 11% said the pandemic caused them to buy groceries online less.

Coresight estimates that 2.6% of U.S. food and beverage sales occurred online last year, up 22% from 2018. The market research firm said it expects the online grocery market to expand 40% in 2020 to about $38 billion, “supported by much higher growth during lockdowns.”


This is not the way people are buying most of their groceries: Almost 47% of respondents said they bought only a small amount of their groceries online and nearly 22% said they got almost none of their groceries this way. But shoppers are expanding the grocery categories they’re willing to buy online, with increases in fresh foods, including dairy, meat and baked goods, Coresight found.

The most popular online grocery category was packaged foods such as breakfast cereal and pasta; followed by toiletries, personal care products and diapers; household cleaners and paper products; and frozen food.

Amazon, the dominant e-commerce player, attracted the most online grocery shoppers: nearly 63% of respondents said they bought groceries from the commerce giant, the same percentage as in the prior year. The survey counts Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market separately. Whole Foods was shopped by 13% of survey respondents, up from more than 8% a year ago.

Amazon last year dropped the $15-a-month grocery delivery fee it had charged for people already paying for a $119-a-year Prime membership. Not surprisingly, Prime members were twice as likely to have bought groceries online from Amazon or Whole Foods, in the Coresight survey.

Walmart, meanwhile, was shopped by 52% of those surveyed, up from about 37% a year ago. Costco increased from nearly 9% to more than 15%.

The survey found that, on average, online grocery shoppers frequent 2.3 different retailers.