After hybrid working, is hybrid shopping here to stay?

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages/Adene Sanchez
GettyImages/Adene Sanchez

Related tags e-commerce Online grocery ecommerce Online shopping Retailing hybrid shopping Millennials gen x Gen Z Baby boomers

New research shows an increasing number of consumers shun grocery stores in favor of digital grocery shopping, with hybrid shopping on a steady rise since the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about major societal changes, propelling online grocery shopping and enabling more workers to work remotely. According to McKinsey’s 2022 American Opportunity Survey, 58% of Americans are now able to work from home at least once a week, while IWG, plc's Global 2023 Women Hybrid Workers Survey showed that 72% of female workers in the US would look for a new job if their employer withdrew hybrid working.

But how is the trend of hybrid shopping - the option to shop via e-commerce channels as well as in physical stores - shaping up in 2023? 

According to a consumer report​ published by research and data analysis company PYMNTS, 39% of US consumers now purchase groceries through both brick-and-mortar stores and online retail. Hybrid shoppers also have a steady share across all age groups, highlighting a cross-generational shift towards digital retail channels since the pandemic.

At the same time, the share of consumers who purchase their groceries at physical stores has dwindled since the pandemic. According to PYMNTS, 63% of shoppers bought everyday staples in-store then, but this share has now dropped to 54%. Meanwhile, online shopping has increased in the last two years, with 7.2% of consumers now buying their everyday staples through e-commerce channels, up from just 0.2% before the pandemic.

The research was carried out among 2,426 consumers in the US between December 22-25, 2022.

Age and income split

Online-only shoppers are mostly millennials, according to the report. This age groups contained the largest share of hybrid shoppers, with around 52% willing to shop both in-store and online. On the contrary, baby boomers and Generation X were most likely to shop in-store only and least likely to purchase groceries online.

The trend towards hybrid shopping has nudged upwards too, with 39% of consumers now buying groceries online and in-store compared to 37% pre-pandemic, according to the report.

Consumers with higher earnings are more likely to take advantage of digital grocery shopping opportunities, while those earning less than $50,000 prefer to shop in-store.

Market drivers

According to PYMNTS, convenience is a key motivation for shoppers to switch to digital retail channels, particularly among the younger generations. Meanwhile, baby boomers and Gen X consumers are better motivated to shop online if online pricing is competitive.

“Our research discovered that convenience is a significant factor for 62% of shoppers who opted to purchase more grocery items through digital channels than from brick-and-mortar grocery stores, with 36% stating it was their primary motivation for doing so.

“Similarly, 54% said high prices or the lack of benefits and deals when shopping in person drove their switch toward more digital alternatives, with 32% naming this as their top reason for doing so.”

In conclusion, PYMNTS is urging retailers to adapt ‘to this increasingly digital-first paradigm’, with better deals and pricing in addition to convenience being core market drivers for the majority of consumers.

Related topics Retail & Shopper Insights

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