The Rise of Online Grocery Shopping During COVID-19
Impacts on Workers, Consumers, and Communities
The COVID-19 pandemic upended virtually every aspect of life, forcing us to rethink so many things we took for granted, such as how we work and shop. This disruption casts new light on long-standing systemic inequities in our society and economy, including in those industries deemed “essential” like food retail. This factsheet is the result of interviews with employees of brick-and-mortar grocery stores and online grocery services, pick-and-pack and delivery gig workers, business owners, and researchers during the summer of 2020.
When California’s statewide shelter-in-place orders began in March 2020, a record number of new customers turned to gig grocery shopping and delivery companies while large brick-and-mortar grocery stores also experienced a surge of online orders. In April, even as 70 percent of Americans continued to visit grocery stores in person (either out of choice or need), they also shopped for groceries online at unprecedented levels. What does this new dynamic mean for consumers and the grocery store workers crucial to ensuring you can put food on your table? And how will a current ballot proposal and evolving California state law change our food system?
This report was made possible through collaboration with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 and the Berkeley Food Institute. Policy consultant Justin Rausa of Everyday Impact Consulting also contributed to this analysis.