/ Shopping

Do you prefer to visit the supermarket rather than shop online?

Food shopping

According to a recent YouGov survey, the UK’s online grocery market has failed to ‘lift off’ and still lags behind the traditional trip to the supermarket. So, how do you like to shop for your groceries?

As I confessed back in March, I’ve never done an online grocery shop. I’ve got easy access to all manner of supermarkets and convenience stores, both near my home and at work. And, quite simply, I enjoy the experience.

Shopping experience

Perhaps it’s because I worked in a supermarket in my late teens and early 20s, but for me, nothing beats mooching around the aisles.

I enjoy looking at the new goods on offer, selecting my own products, assessing their freshness and, best of all, sifting through the reduced products section.

If I’m in my hometown, I’ll probably have to add on at least 10 minutes to my shop as I’ll invariably bump into someone I went to school with, which obviously warrants a catch-up natter. Escalate that to half an hour if I’m with my mum, who is guaranteed to get talking to old school friends/former colleagues/relatives I’ve never heard her mention before.

Supermarket sweep

According to a YouGov survey, it’s a similar story for the majority of shoppers, with more people using bricks and mortar supermarkets over online stores.

The findings tally with recent Office for National Statistics data that found only 6% of total UK grocery sales are made online.

So what’s the reason for the lack of enthusiasm? Well, there are actually a few. Almost 57% of those surveyed said they did not trust the quality and freshness of products bought online, while 71% said they would prefer to touch before they buy.

More than half of non-online shoppers (51%) say they enjoy going to a supermarket, while 34% believe they would miss the social contact involved in a trip to the shops.

A good number of shoppers, both of bricks and mortar supermarkets (38%) and online stores (35%), said additional delivery costs were too high. While others (19%) believed that the delivery times were inconvenient.

Shopping habits

So what would it take to change our shopping habits?

Maybe it’s tackling the ever-mysterious world of substitutions (remember the order condoms, receive a pregnancy test convo?) or, for me a gripe I personally have is that most sites seem to have a minimum spend, which can vary from £25 to £60. Get that down to a fiver, or at a push, a tenner, and cut the delivery costs, and I reckon a few more people might be persuaded. Probably not me, though.

How do you prefer to buy your groceries?

A trip to the supermarket (77%, 931 Votes)

A mixture of both (16%, 193 Votes)

Online (7%, 84 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,208

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Do you do your grocery shopping online? If not, what is it that puts you off? What would it take to persuade you to change your habits?


Living in the Arctic, we find online food deliveries to be invaluable. But if we’re looking for anything new, then a trip to the local outpost is essential. Until computers can deliver VR instances of the supermarket, then I suspect that won’t change for a while.

Doesn’t the rift have an app yet? That’s baad?

It is so much easier to shop online. I buy more or less everything I can – it is great not having to lug around cans, toilet rolls, bottles etc, having to load them on trollies, unloading them at the till, re-loading them in the trolley, then loading them into my car, then at home unloading them yet again!!

However, I do not purchase fresh fruit, veg, meat or fish online. I prefer to go to my local shops for these rather than visiting a supermarket.

mrs r and I usually do the weeks shop on a Friday, and enjoy selecting the weeks meals. Three main reasons – getting ideas for what to eat as we look around, looking at offers, and buying the best use-by dates of what we pick. We have other items to buy in nearby shops as well.

However, if you are at work all day, as my (big) children are, then just opening the door to a delivery at a chosen time makes the most of spare time.

I would need a decent supplier to trust with an online shop -if I were to use one – probably Waitrose.

I can thoroughly recommend Ocado as an extremely good online supermarket. I have shopped with them for several years now and have never yet had a bad experience. Any problems are sorted out very quickly, their drivers are always helpful and friendly, and I am very happy to carry on shopping with them.

I second Ocado as the best online supermarket.

Their range is far superior to any other supermarket and if you have dietary needs like we do, unbeatable for choice. They carry many Waitrose products and their website and customer service is also excellent.

And the most expensive place for your supermarket shop

We wait forlornly for Ocado to start delivering to anywhere close to us.

We would like to move where Ocado don’t deliver and would really miss them. Where else do you get the choice of over 60 dairy-free ice creams?

I think Ocado could expand to weekly drop-off and collection points into areas that they don’t normally deliver.

If I moved to an area where they don’t deliver, I would be happy to do a big shop once a month and collect my groceries from a collection point if it meant we could continue to get products that you just can’t get elsewhere.

Bishbut, Ocado prices are much the same as everywhere else on every-day items and we make the most of special offers on non-perishable goods. Their fantastic range of special diet foods tend to be more expensive but buying a mixture of special offers and full price evens out the cost.

Hahaha. Special diet foods. That’s adorable.

If you’re moving north try Booths – excellent ranges and top quality fresh foods… and you can always make your own ice-creams: I do!

I would not say I go willingly to a supermarket but if it has to be done I usually send my other half.

We do a bulk online shop about once a month for nearly everything except fruit, veg and most meat that gets bought in round trip on Saturday mornings. Like others, we like to inspect fresh goods before buying.

Pete Parkins says:
8 November 2017

We like to see the fresh food we buy, and it then makes sense to pick up the groceries. Most other things such as electric white goods and appliances etc i buy on line. I mostly buy on Amazon. I dont like their setup since they don’t pay their taxes but if others offered the simplicity of their return policies I would use them.

I try to get around Amazon’s tax evasion by only buying from marketplace sellers. That way they only get to evade tax on their seller fees (and I am not sure they can do that).

There is currently an action against Amazon about recovering unpaid vat from market place sellers who must stock their products in Amazon’s warehouse, for quick delivery. I think the whole Amazon set up – not only tax but product safety – needs proper investigation. But who has the courage to do that?

I abhor ‘fulfilled by Amazon’ products almost as much as the ‘prime’ ones!!

I do wish some British businessman like Sir Alan Sugar would organise our British businesses (big and small) to set up an equivalent ‘all under one umbrella’ online store. I’d be there like a shot.

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I prefer going to the supermarket to buying food online as I like to browse the produce, assess ‘sell by’ dates and judge what miscellaneous extras I want to add to the weekly shop.

When I lived in London I would order an online shop as it was such a pain to organise and carry home a weekly shop from the supermaket, but I invariably found that the substitutions meant I had to go out to the supermarket in any case and the savings weren’t particularly great.

I will guarantee if you shop online with your weekly groceries you will save money. As you are not tempted by any promotions or persuaded to buy what you really don,t need.

I’m afraid I do get tempted by new products on special offer as it is the ideal time to try them out.

But you can see the cost of your trolley before you get to the till, which would make shopping easier if on a budget.

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Have you tried Clive’s Pies Duncan? They are some of the nicest vegetarian pies we have tasted. Some are also vegan and gluten free. Clivespies website says they can be found in most H&B stores.

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Have you tried Quorn, Duncan? Some of their stuff isn’t bad, including the pre-prepared meals, and I have just looked at their website and they seem to have recipes too. We eat meat, but we like to try alternative so as not to each too much of it and for a wee change.

Hi, this is getting off-topic and I just wanted to jump in before the weekend starts. Any chance we could take this to either The Lobby, or maybe: https://conversation.which.co.uk/food-drink/vegetarian-food-menu-needs-to-improve/

Thank you 🙂

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It would be interesting to see Wiltshire Foods, and similar home-delivery organisations, reviewed for quality and value, particularly in contrast to the equivalent supermarket ready meals. Our elderly neighbour used to have them regularly.

I prefer the cheapest option and by cheapest I mean the one that the overall price including delivery is the cheapest!

We are both old and infirm. weak/handicapped and don’t drive anymore. Evek if we did the effort of [perosnal shopping and getting the sopping home would be very difficult indeed. On- line grocery shopping with home delivery to our fifth floor flat with lift is invaluable.
One time our lift was out of order. The Tesco man brought our large weekly order up to us although he didn’t have to go more than 3 floors.

Hi Clare, it’s interesting to hear how invaluable you find home delivery – rather than just convenient. I’m glad that you’re able to use the service, and what a nice story to hear about your Tesco delivery driver.

I usually like personal shopping in Sainsburys, Asda and M&S all of which are in walking distance from my flat but there is an Aldi opening also within walking distance on 16 th November. i do also occasionally do a £50 Iceland shop about once every two or three months because they sell Slimming World Meals.

I have never used online shopping, though delivery to the door is an attractive feature as I find it increasingly difficult to carry heavy bags. However, the chance to buy heavily reduced items at the end of the day allows me to try new tastes that I might never have sampled otherwise.

I always seek out the freshest products (usually behind the shorter dated ones), and wouldn’t trust a packer to do this for me. I use different supermarkets for specific goods and variety, but have increasingly become dependent on my local Aldi due to their very good prices and excellent quality of many of the foods and wines that I enjoy. It is generally sufficiently varied in foods and household items to satisfy the majority of my needs. If Aldi was to offer delivery of goods I should be tempted to use that service!

I love going to the supermarket to shop. After a full day of work it can be a bit of a chore but once I’m there it’s fine. I find I’m more inspired that way, rather than shopping online. On the other hand, I spend more!

Shopping on line is great for the stock goods and commodities like cleaning materials and drinks. We prefer to visit a large supermarket at the less busy times to choose the other items.

Perhaps I am perverse but I look for the ripest fruit, not the freshest, as we usually want to eat it on the same or next day – not have to wait for it to ripen, or fail to ripen as seems to happen with many fruits nowadays. With mass-produced imported fruit I think the supply chain is too long and the produce is not kept under ideal conditions for sale; much of it has been over-chilled, or kept under refrigeration for too long, which impairs its flavour and interferes with the natural ripening process. The only high street supplier that seems to get this right is M&S. followed by Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and Morrison in that order. In my opinion the rest of the food retailers are selling inferior products at too high a price.

It is such a pity that very few high streets can now support an independent greengrocer. Such as are left cannot source the best produce or offer the full range so people have to go to the supermarkets which, over time, have declined in quality because they only focus on the price, The independent shops have had to close in the face of unbeatable competition.Market stalls, which often do offer a very good range of good quality local produce, are not necessarily open every day or have what you want, and will not deliver.

When we had a Cooperative food shop near us they offered the perfect service: select a delivery slot on arrival, go round the store, pick exactly what you wanted, load it in the trolley and pay for it at the checkout, go home and await the delivery at the chosen time. No substitutions or wrong-dated produce. They had locally-sourced produce and the the quality of their own-brand goods and their meat products was often superior to the major supermarkets. We moved away from the area and missed the Coop’s service but they subsequently succumbed to competition from Morrison’s and Tesco’s across the road and eventually sold their store to Aldi who are beating Morrison’s and Tesco’s on quality and price but only provide a no-frills service, so no deliveries.

I prefer to see/touch/smell etc before I buy, I do a small shop every day, my shops are very near me, staff in all of them are generally helpful and friendly, and I’m still able to carry stuff. So as long as this all lasts I will carry on shopping in person.

One instance I can think of when I have found a supermarket delivery useful, however, is last January when the family rented a house away for a short holiday. We ordered what we needed in advance and got it delivered to the house on the first day. It saved wondering who picks up what, where, how, when and why. We were happy with the service and we would use it again.

Personally, we are put off by the cost and the lead time. We normally shop in store and, on the odd occasion, need a delivery. However, the lead time to a useful delivery slot around our work schedules are prohibitive. Add onto that a delivery cost and it’s a double whammy.

As we have elderly relatives to shop for too, it’s a real problem keeping us all organised. Our parents (both Mums) refuse to use the service due to the minimum spend required. Unfortunately one is disabled. If supermarkets would remove either the delivery charge or the minimum spend for the disabled, it would help enormously.

I visit supermarkets because it gets me out of the house. I prefer to shop on the way home rather than making a special trip.

When Tesco launched its online service I ordered groceries for my mother, who struggled to get out to the shops. If I was not able to get out for any reason I would have no hesitation in using one or more of the online services that now compete for our custom.

Let’s hope you continue to get out and about wavechange :-).

I quite enjoy the weekly shop, for reasons mentioned earlier. Because we are out on a lot of evenings we use ready meals quite a bit (they are far superior now to a few years ago) – whether haddock mornay, cottage pie, chicken Kiev or whatever takes our fancy. Half an hour or so in the oven and job done. An advantage in doing a shop in person is you can see the size, and usually the contents inside the pack. Many products labelled as a meal for one are quite adequate for two, particularly if you add vegetables or don’t want a large meal.

I had never considered online shopping until after an op. on my shoulder grounded me for a few weeks, so I had no alternative. I was very sceptical of what the quality would be like and whether I would actually get what I ordered. No problem at all. everything was as fresh as if I had selected it myself. I was given an introductory free anytime delivery for a month which was really good. I was so impressed with everything about shopping online, that once my shoulder was improved I continued to do online shopping and am still as pleased 9 months on. I bought a midweek delivery package for £32. this means I can have free delivery tues, wed, thurs and pick any time with one-hour time slots. The cost savings for me for doing this is immense. It would cost me a lot more in fuel, time and extra (instant) purchases in store. The delivery drivers are brilliant, they are friendly, helpful, cheerful and contribute to the overall experience for me. I can do my shopping any time up until 23.46 on the night before my delivery; I can do my shopping in 15 minutes while having a coffee and now only have to handle my shopping myself once – to put it away. I have guinea pigs and they get through a lot of hay, this is also delivered with my groceries – another less trip to a shop. I also get other online benefits with free deliveries from other departments like clothing, home and garden etc. All round I choose more time for me, online shopping is a win-win.

One thing I love about supermarket shopping is going to other people’s. I love to explore the different products or, in some cases, services that are available – oh look, they can get that in smaller sizes or ‘goodness gracious!’ how come our place doesn’t stock that. Apparently some items just don’t have a market in some areas. How the marketing managers judge this without putting them on the shelves in the first place I don’t know but apparently they don’t. But then that makes for some great serendipitous moments to experience. Inputting someone else’s postcode so that you get a different selection of online data but no ability to put it in your basket doesn’t have quite the same feel. Nor does it provide the exercise benefits of a leisurely stroll down the aisles – nor, granted, the headache of the checkout queues.

Another thing I love is being able to pick my bananas at just the right shade of green and with the smallest fingers in the bunch and select the net with 14 mandarins rather than 11 at the same price or carrots all the right length for a single portion and so on. Pickers, whether human or machine, are virtually guaranteed to select the correct tin, since one 340 gm tin of own brand tomatoes is pretty much the same as the next 340 gm tin of own brand tomatoes – providing it hasn’t been battered – but they are never going to choose the smallest weediest grapes I prefer over the bigger juicier looking ones they would choose for themselves. Neither are they particularly psychic when it comes to knowing I didn’t mean I wanted 1x250gm tub of double cream, having clicked on that image in a moment’s loss of concentration, I wanted 1x1L tub instead.

Another thing about shopping in person, since not every retailer sells identical stock, is starting at the furthest away, picking a route home and stopping at each outlet en route to fulfil the list at the best price. It is silly to waste time, energy and petrol going out of the way to pick up bargains. That is no saving. But when you have to drive past the door anyway….

With online shopping you have that £40 minimum shop obligation, sometimes higher (as far as I know, no supermarket has offered a £25 shop since 2015 – although Tesco offered a £20 introductory shop and still offer a below minimum basket for a £4 surcharge) at just a single outlet. As a disabled person shopping for one on a limited budget, a £40 shop equates to a month’s worth of food. In these circumstances it is always going to be nigh on impossible to stock up on enough fresh food to last the same period as the groceries and not know that half of it is not just going to be out of date but also out of edibility before you get to it. So 3 weeks a month your ‘fresh’ choice is wrinkled apples and wilted carrots (although a good chiller and some stay fresh bags might extend the celery into week 2 or even week 3 if you don’t mind eating cardboard). So that’s salad off the menu then!!. Defrosted carrots just don’t quite have the same bite. For some reason hot deli foods or salad bars seem never to be available, not sure about fresh fish as I like to be able to look that in the eye when I condemn it.

The online shopping search facilities all seem to fail at return half the items in the shop for some reason so a harassed click through umpteen 1000 items in which you have no interest ensues to finally get to the one you wanted – assuming you haven’t lost the will to live in the meantime – turning a leisurely 2 hour stroll down familiar aisles into a day long nightmare. There may be # days left to expire before your shopping bag is picked, but you cannot select your particular brand of cheese because right now, this very moment, it is showing an out of stock status – so you either have to remember to sign back in or do without until next month’s shop – and you cannot finalise the list to save your chosen delivery slot because the system won’t let you complete it before it reaches the full £40 so you add something you don’t actually want – and, believe me, there is a limit to the number of times you want to add a cheap kettle or toaster or mop head just to make up the price. Returning items, though, is easy if they are substitutions or not up to standard but then you have to do without until your next shop because your driver isn’t coming back with any replacement. And just because something was in stock when you selected it does not guarantee it is reserved for you so there may well be other things you wanted missing – that you cannot pick up elsewhere on the way home!

As to delivery charges? Waitrose magnanimously offers a free delivery option if you make a £60 minimum shop. But then the Waitrose minimum shop is £60 full stop so it is always going to be free (apparently). Elsewhere, with ever climbing rates, there are benefits for brand loyalty that, if you can meet the minimum shop on a regular basis, you can make some good savings on but no one supermarket stocks all the foods I like on my menu. Asda offers delivery from a £1 minimum. For some reason Asda’s £1 slots are never available in my locale – too rural presumably – even though the vehicles pass the end of the street and may actually deliver here on the way from the warehouse to their main drop off zone. Go figure! Tesco will deliver but don’t stock half the products on my shopping list in their local main outlet. They sell these items in other branches and are happy to order them to be delivered to the local branch from their own warehouse but, even thought the van bringing my shop from the branch to my property leaves after these goods they ordered in for me arrive, I will still have to go make the trip down to that local branch and collect them myself. Go figure! Morrisons won’t deliver because Ocado don’t deliver. Now that one I understand, I don’t appreciate being discriminated against because the highways authority judges my area unworthy of major development but I do understand it.

So swings and roundabouts. There are times when I get so desperate to restock my shelves that I have to resort to an online shop but on the whole there are more advantages to going in person.

I thoroughly enjoyed your description of on-line shopping woes, Foxcliffe, and identify with many of them.

I am particularly irked that in order to book the delivery slot we want on a Monday we have to start the order on the previous Friday, or Thursday even, and there is apparently no mechanism that ‘saves’ our order and stops it being sold before the delivery date, even if it is arriving as a new consignment.

But for all that, I think on-line delivery has saved us a lot of time and made shopping for the heavy and basic stock items very much easier. The fact that we now have a crate of thirty two-litre bottles of mineral water resting in the garage because I consistently fail to check the final order for correct quantities is testament to that. I am convinced that the ordering software has a built-in ticker that uprates the quantity every 30 seconds if you don’t do something to cancel or reduce it.

My other criticism is that the product images on the website are not all to the same scale or displayed alongside a standard item. Hence we sometimes have industrial quantities of toothpaste in what must be one-litre tubes which, used at the rate of 20 mm a day, outlast the desk diary.

The only remedy for these pains is to take twice as long compiling the order which defeats the purpose of doing it on-line.

heavens forfend! It can already take me a whole day to put an online order together, no way do I need it to take me twice as long 🙂