US grocery outlook bright, with Amazon set to overtake Walmart as largest retailer

Published on
May 3, 2021

The outlook for United States retailers and grocers is strong, according to National Retail Federation (NRF) Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.

As Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19, they are developing a more positive economic outlook, and they’re visits into physical stores are rising, according to Kleinhenz. As a result, the U.S. economy is on firm footing and could see its fastest growth in more than three decades.

“While there is a great deal of uncertainty about how fast and far this economy will grow in 2021, surveys show an increase in individuals being vaccinated, more willingness to receive a vaccination, increased spending intentions and comfort with resuming pre-pandemic behaviors like shopping, travel, and family gatherings,” Kleinhenz said in the May issue of NRF’s Monthly Economic Review. “The consumer is nearly always the key driver in the economy, and with the consumer in good financial health, a sharp demand is expected to unfold over the coming months.”

NRF expects the U.S. economy to grow 6.6 percent this year, the highest level since 7.2 percent in 1984. Consumers’ “feel-better situation” will likely translate into higher levels of household spending, especially around upcoming holidays like the Fourth of July and spending associated with Americans going back into the office and school, Kleinhenz said.

More than a quarter of consumers plan to do their grocery shopping in-store once they are fully vaccinated and 38 percent said they will do a combination of online and in-store shopping, according to a new survey from data and technology firm Inmar Intelligence.

“As vaccines become more widely available, it is natural that today’s shoppers choose to head back into the store as a part of their grocery shopping routine,” Inmar Executive Vice President Spencer Baird said in a press release.

Currently, 48 percent of shoppers are hybrid shoppers, and nearly 33 percent are shopping for groceries in-store, “suggesting a steady return to normalcy and increased comfort with in-store shopping,” Inmar said.

In addition, 51 percent of shoppers said they will stockpile throughout 2021, adopting a longer-term “be prepared” mentality, according to Inmar. Thirty-eight percent plan to stockpile toilet paper, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, food, and alcohol. 

Online buying has increased dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, Amazon – which had a spike of 44 percent in online sales in its fiscal first quarter – will overtake Walmart as the biggest U.S. retailer by 2025, according to a new report.

By 2025, U.S. shoppers will buy USD 632 billion (EUR 524 billion) worth of products at Amazon and its retail affiliates, including Whole Foods Market, according to Edge by Ascential, Bloomberg reported. Comparatively, Walmart’s sales will reach USD 523 billion (EUR 534 billion) by 2025.

Despite Amazon’s success, sales at its physical stores fell 16 percent in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020.

Photo courtesy of ARTYOORAN/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor



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