Here are some of the benefits one might consider for this method of grocery shopping, and some potential disadvantages that merit discussion as well.
One reason that online grocery shopping and curbside pickup have gained popularity is their convenience. Online shopping can be done from anywhere and saves time that would otherwise be spent walking through aisles. This allows many people to dedicate more time to their bigger priorities, such as personal health, family, home maintenance, hobbies or work.
Many people also prefer online grocery shopping and curbside pickup due to health concerns, especially related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the COVID-19 pandemic has lessened in its fatality in many regions, it is still a vital concern for folks with preexisting health issues or who belong to a vulnerable sector. Online grocery shopping and curbside pickup allow for limited personal contact and, subsequently, greater health security.
In addition, there are plenty of people who shop online for the ability to make better nutritional choices. Indeed, studies have shown that online shoppers are less likely to purchase highly processed foods such as candies and chips. For people hoping to maintain a pre-planned grocery list and reduce their intake of processed foods, shopping online provides a helpful separation from impulse purchases.
Does it Save Money?
Online shopping and curbside pickup can be more expensive, on the downside. This is due to fees associated with the delivery, personal shoppers, etc., which can inflate the price of grocery items if there aren’t subsidies or regulations in the region to balance it.
However, many shoppers do save substantial amounts as a result of reduced impulse purchases that they usually would have made in-store. Impulse purchases make up an estimated 40-80% of purchases in grocery stores, and grocery chains employ extensive strategies to increase the number of impulse purchases made. Therefore, if an individual converts to online shopping, they may find that the higher cost of items is outweighed by significant savings on unplanned purchases.
Furthermore, there are some positive environmental impacts associated with online shopping. Online shopping reduces the number of cars driving to grocery stores, instead providing the efficiency of single-vehicle delivery. Additionally, the lower amount of impulse purchases means lower consumption overall, and this allows for more sustainable production levels.
However, the practices of retailers and producers often have a much larger environmental impact than shopping methods. For example, an individual who shops in-person at a market that sells unpackaged foods gathered through sustainable and ethical practices will often have a lower environmental impact than one who shops online at a grocer without those priorities.
Overall, online shopping and curbside pickup can provide benefits from convenience to nutrition. However, individuals should also consider whether the cost and environmental impacts will improve for them or pose a disadvantage.