Thanksgiving Food Shopping Spurs Online Grocery Growth

Black Friday gets all the attention, but Thanksgiving is a notable holiday for grocery retailers: 86% of consumers plan to purchase food for an event, according to a survey by JDA. While 83% of shoppers will grab their ingredients in-store, e-Commerce is playing a growing role: 7% of consumers plan to order holiday essentials online — almost double the projected rate of overall grocery e-Commerce purchases in 2018.

Nearly half of this digital shopping group, 46%, said this will be their first time ordering food products online. The top reason given for ordering Thanksgiving ingredients online was convenience, cited by more than 61% of shoppers.

Among this group of online Thanksgiving shoppers, 40% plan on buying their turkeys online. But hosts and their guests also will purchase a wide variety of food and drinks to complement the main course:


  • Canned vegetables, boxed stuffing and other non-perishables (60%);
  • Fresh produce (45%);
  • Dessert (38%);
  • Cider, beer or wine (38%); and
  • Pre-prepared sides or salads (30%).

Shoppers’ lack of time and their growing trust in delivery options makes Thanksgiving a golden opportunity for retailers to promote their delivery options to existing customers: 8% of shoppers will combine in-store shopping with delivery services. By complementing their promotions with free or discounted delivery, grocers can convince their base to give other purchasing options a try.

“I think the holidays are a logical place for this,” said JoAnn Martin, VP of Retail Industry Strategy at JDA in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “A lot of family traditions revolve around food and groceries, so I think it’s a jumping-off point, but it will also continue to accelerate.”

Online Research Leads To In-Store Sales

Brick-and-mortar retailers can benefit from an omnichannel approach that reduces friction by making the research process as simple as possible. Approximately 28% of shoppers research their potential purchases online before they buy, which leads to a 13% boost in spending in-store.

“In terms of differentiation, it’s about the experience for the customer,” said Martin. “What you see on the grocer’s site and their app is that they’re offering recipes and developing shopping lists off of that. You’re seeing them make it simple for the customers, and making it as customer-centered as possible.”

However, the research process doesn’t stop when shoppers go to the grocery: 27% of consumers plan on researching products in-store. Retailers should include striking displays and recipe suggestions to help undecided shoppers find what they need to perfect their upcoming feast.

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