Pandemic turns whole nation into online shoppers says John Lewis

Released today, the report ‘How Britain Shops Online: Food and Drink Edition’ is based on comprehensive new OnePoll consumer research of people across Britain – not just Waitrose shoppers.  This data is supported by insight from Waitrose e-Commerce experts, online search trends and millions of purchases on

James Bailey, Waitrose & Partners Executive Director, said: ‘Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, there are few retailers that wouldn’t have predicted the continued growth of e-commerce relative to physical shops. But what would have previously been a gradual upward climb in demand has – with the outbreak of Covid-19  – turned into a trajectory more reminiscent of scaling Everest. One in four of us now do a grocery shop online at least once a week – double the amount in 2019.’


At its recent strategic review update, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership Sharon White spoke of the importance of building on the strength of the Waitrose brand by making it easier and more convenient for customers to shop whenever and however they want. The retailer is mid-way through £100m investment in, which it predicts will account for 20% of its total business, up from 5% pre-Covid. Having accelerated its online expansion rapidly in recent months, is on track to treble its size to become a £1bn business in its own right by the end of the year and the retailer has plans to increase order capacity to 250,000 weekly slots.

The supermarket has not rested on its laurels in the new product design department either; its revamped food innovation centre at its Bracknell headquarters has seen the recent development of 5,000 new or reformulated products. This equates to nearly a third of the 14,000-17,000 own-label products sold under its well-known brands including Duchy Organic, essential Waitrose and Waitrose No.1.

The report’s key findings include:


  • Last year, less than half of over-55s (47%) did some of their food shopping online. This has since increased to 74%
  • There has also been a big shift in the shopping behaviours of 35-44 year-olds. 32% now do at least one online shop each week, compared to 16% in 2019


  • 44% of people actively seek out products online with less packaging, and searches for the food waste page on up 94% compared to last year
  • When shopping online, 27% of people seek out British products


  • There has been a huge increase in customer demand for delivery ‘whenever and however’. The Waitrose Rapid service, which allows customers to purchase up to 25 items for delivery within two hours – currently has over 23,000 customers – a three-fold increase compared to before the pandemic


  • 40% of people say they’ll shop for groceries online more in the long term than pre-Covid-19
  • 19% of people say they’ll use a wider variety of online services (including fast delivery and Click & Collect) post-lockdown
  • 25% of people say they’ll do bigger grocery shops online in the future

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