As part of an unusual but interesting study examining the U.S. retail scene as e-commerce disrupts a range of industries, MetLife Investment Management predicts that U.S. online grocery sales could swell to at least 7 percent of total sales by 2023. This would be a notable change, as online grocery sales haven’t taken off like other retail categories, especially restaurants, electronics and apparel. The authors predicted this would change by the mid-2020s.
“Firms like Instacart, Peapod, Amazon and FreshDirect, however, have been refining their logistics, and we believe consumers who are increasingly buying non-grocery items online will feel comfortable enough with the process to begin buying groceries online as well,” the study read.
MetLife’s analysts noted that online grocery penetration in the United Kingdom is currently at 7 percent. If this happens, the study predicted that operating costs will push “most online ordering growth” into cold-storage warehouses, increasing the gulf in operating costs for more traditional grocers.
By combining credit card transaction data, growth of transportation and logistics workers and Google Trends in specific metro areas, MetLife said that certain cities will see greater disruptions from e-commerce due to how many area residents have already made e-commerce purchases a part of their regular routines.
Combining that with retail real estate performance data, the study suggested cities like Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Chicago would see the least amount of general disruption from e-commerce, while Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Seattle, Orlando and Phoenix will see the most. Are Seattleites not shopping online?
“With consumer confidence near cyclical highs, selecting markets where further e-commerce disruption risk is lower could provide investors the ability to capture consumer-related economic tailwinds in a sector priced for headwinds,” the study concluded.