Consumers have a variety of options when it comes to buying groceries, yet they continue to choose physical grocery stores to make their purchases, according to “The State of Grocery Shopping” report.

This survey, produced by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), New York, found that 99% of adults buy some or all of their groceries in person.

Consumers visit physical stores personally because they seek immediate access to products (71%), the ability to select fresh meat, dairy and produce (70%) and see product options and select all other items in person (69%).

“The grocery sector remains relatively unimpacted by the growth in e-commerce sales,” says Tom McGee, president and CEO. “Consumers are heavily invested in the types of food they purchase, and they want to be able to select the best and the freshest to take home.”

Keeping true to the Millennial influence of industries, grocery shopping for this demographic looks very different from older generations. For instance:

  • They shop at 5.9 different types of grocery stores, slightly above the average.
  • Nearly one out of four Millennials (23%) shop three or more times a week for groceries.
  • Even when ordering online, 81% of Millennials go to the store to pick up their grocery order.
  • A significantly higher number of Millennials buy groceries from convenience stores (74%), Amazon/other pure online retailers (67%) and high-end supermarkets (66%).

“Millennials have been called the foodie generation, and blend that with their command of technology, and we see some changes in grocery purchasing behaviors, which will drive all grocery retailers to make appropriate modifications in their business model to address the way they shop,” says McGee. “The grocery retailer who wins their share of wallet is the one who delivers an omni-channel experience that meets their desires and demands.”

When it comes to online grocery shopping, nearly three out of four consumers make purchases online (74%) and then pick up their order in store. Only 1% of consumers solely buy their groceries online and never go into a store to buy groceries.

More than four out of 10 consumers (44%) have their grocery purchases delivered to their home and over one-third (36%) have items shipped by mail or courier service to their home. Fifty-four percent of the high-end supermarket shopper who buys online has the retailer deliver the groceries to their home—the highest of any type of online grocery shopper.

When it comes to shopping behaviors, consumers on average shop at 5.4 different types of grocery retailers, with 93% of people patronizing discount department stores (e.g., Walmart and Target) and 92% at traditional supermarkets for grocery purchases. Trailing behind these two retail formats, just over two-thirds of consumers shop at limited assortment food stores (e.g. ALDI and Trader Joe’s) and warehouse clubs (tied at 69%).

Of the grocery store formats, traditional supermarkets have the most frequent visitors with 55% making purchases at least once per week. The largest shares of infrequent shoppers buy occasionally (every few months) from small, specialty/gourmet food stores (76%) and high-end supermarkets (65%).


The ICSC State of Grocery Shopping survey was conducted online by Opinion Research Corp., Princeton, N.J., on behalf of ICSC from Aug. 21-23. The survey represents a demographically representative sample of 1,012 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older.