Whether shopping in stores or online, grocery customers are making frequent unplanned purchases — those not on their physical or mental shopping list — that are most often spurred by these top three causes: product deals, a desire to try new things and remembering something they needed or wanted while shopping, according to a January 2021 survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adult grocery shoppers by Advantage Sales, part of Advantage Solutions, and Suzy Inc.

A majority (57%) of both brick-and-mortar and digital grocery shoppers (those buying online or with a grocery app) are adding unplanned purchases to their baskets every time or most times they shop, the survey found.

“Spontaneous Sales: Why Grocery Shoppers Are Making Unplanned Purchases in Stores and Online,” the Advantage Sales report based on the survey results, reveals:

  • More than four in 10 shoppers surveyed are digital grocery shoppers, with 17% saying most of their grocery shops are done online/with a grocery app and 27% saying they buy their groceries equally off a digital shelf and in a store.
  • Grocery shoppers are making unplanned purchases more frequently off a digital shelf than a physical one. Nearly one-third of digital grocery shoppers say they make an unplanned purchase every time they shop online or with an app. One-fourth of in-store shoppers make a spontaneous purchase each time they make a trip.
  • Four in 10 digital-shelf shoppers say meeting a minimum order requirement for free delivery typically causes them to add products not on their list to their cart.
  • Whether buying in stores or on digital platforms, shoppers’ unplanned purchase decisions are greatly influenced by strategic product placement.
Download the Report