Sales of supermarket chain stores dwarfed those of smaller independent grocery businesses. The edible grocery segment continued to be the most lucrative department for supermarkets in terms of sales, generating around 127 billion U.S. dollars in sales compared to sales of 28 billion U.S. dollars in the non-edible grocery segment.
As the e-commerce share of total retail revenue in the food and beverage sector remains very small, supermarkets continue to rely on brick-and-mortar stores in generating the bulk of their revenues. The Kroger Company currently operates the highest number of supermarkets in the United States, with a large portion of its stores integrating pharmacies or fuel centers. However, despite the importance of brick-and-mortar stores, an emerging market leader in the food and retail industry is e-commerce giant Amazon, who is projected to be the fastest growing grocery retailer in the United States by 2023.
The competitive edge of online grocers became more pronounced with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, as many consumers became much less likely to visit grocery stores, and supermarkets saw their monthly foot traffic decrease significantly in March and April 2020. During that same time period, the number of customers of online grocery delivery and pick-up soared. However, supermarkets that implemented in-store procedures to limit the spread of COVID-19 (e.g. sanitization, limit employee handling of food) were able to retain their brick-and-mortar customers.