Are Belgians more open to purchase FMCG online following the COVID-19 crisis?

COVID-19 strongly hit our economy during lockdown. Restaurants, bars, hotels and non-necessity stores were closed for several weeks: many were impacted by the measures put in place. However, some benefited from more attention during this period. It is safe to say that the online channel* is one of them. But how has it truly evolved during the crisis in FMCG & Fresh? 

Belgian shoppers used to have the reputation to be less open when it comes to e-commerce, especially in comparison to our neighboring countries. Ten years ago, the purchase of FMCG & Fresh online only represented 0,2% of the market turnover whereas it reached a share of 2% in MAT June 2020.

The online attitude of the population seemed to have evolved following the COVID-19 crisis. In the 5 months period from March to July 2020, more than a third of the online buyers was new to the channel.  In YTD June 2020, 15.2% of the Belgian population purchased FMCG & Fresh online at least once, which represents a growth of +2pp versus last year. The average basket value was also bigger as buyers spent 411,3€ during this period which represents an increase of +21% versus last year.

The penetration evolution of online can specifically be observed in some specific buyer groups. The number of households buying FMCG & Fresh online increased the most within the buyer groups displayed below:

However, those three buyer groups are not specifically responsible for the increasing spend per buyer. The pensioners low income and young singles almost tripled their spending online in YTD June 2020 versus 2019.

COVID-19 truly disrupted the purchase behavior of Belgian shoppers online. Some might have been convinced to purchase FMCG & Fresh online for the first time, some may continue to increase their spending online: the trends will have to be followed in the coming weeks following the epidemiologic situation in Belgium. 

*Online in FMCG & Fresh includes: Meal Kits (eg: HelloFresh, Simply You Box,…), Brick & Click (eg: Collect&Go, Carrefour Drive, Delhaize.be, AH.be,…), Pure Players (eg: Amazon, Bol.com, Zooplus,…) and others.