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The Future of Food Delivery – Customer Side: Curb-Side Pickup vs. Delivery

Whether by choice or force of circumstance, the coronavirus pandemic has led many customers to make changes to how they acquire both grocery items and prepared foods. In fact, in the November 2020 Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey:

  • 35% of respondents indicated they used curbside pickup for groceries for the first time because of the pandemic, and 37% said that they are using it more often.
  • 30% of respondents said they ordered third-party delivery groceries more often because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 43% of respondents said they used restaurant curb-side pickup for the first time because of the pandemic, and 55% said they are using it more often.
  • 32% used third-party food delivery services (such as DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats) for the first time because of the pandemic, and 44% said they are using these services more often.

Although both delivery and curb-side pickup are seeing increased consumer acceptance and use, curb-side is being used by more people.

Curb-side pickup is less costly for stores to do, which means that it’s generally also less expensive for consumers. However, delivery companies are responding by offering subscription plans (monthly or annual) that make using the service more affordable for frequent users. They are also partnering their services with more types of retailers so that orders can include items that you can’t get in a grocery store.

Additional benefits of curb-side pickup include greater control over timing. As more people return to work outside the home and children return to onsite schooling, households that previously tried delivery may find it more difficult to arrange a time to accept delivered grocery when someone is at home. It is often easier to arrange for a curb-side pickup option rather than delivery, given that more slots are often available.

This concern of coordinating deliveries with someone at home to accept them is less of an issue with prepared meals, as delivery tends to be available well into the evening. However, during peak delivery times, it make take significantly longer to receive ordered meals, so pickup might still be a faster option, particularly as more restaurants are bringing food out to customers’ cars rather than asking them to come into the restaurant.

The convenience of curb-side and delivery options means that these services will continue to be available well beyond the pandemic. Expect 2021 to bring about more innovations and improvements in how food gets to consumers, particularly as the pandemic lifts and lifestyles change again.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including Global Foodservice, Foodservice Single-Use Products, Global Foodservice Single-Use Products, Retail Bags, and Global E-Commerce Packaging. Related reports from our sister publisher, Packaged Facts, include Food Carryout & Delivery, Food Carryout & Delivery: Special COVID-19 Consumer Insights, Consumer & Corporate Food Gifting in the US, US Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking, Grocery Shopping & Food Trends in the Age of Coronavirus, Global Food E-Commerce, and Online Grocery in the US. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Services