U.S. adults continue to flock to grocery stores as delivery services cause issues for majority

New York – May 14, 2020 – U.S. adults are ditching cash and debit cards in favor of credit cards when buying food during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey by Bankrate.com. Credit card usage at grocery stores and restaurants were both up 70% in four months. Additionally, the vast majority (83%) of those who placed an order for grocery delivery in April reported at least one issue with the service.

In April 2020, U.S. adults migrated to credit cards vs. debit and cash payments for in-person grocery and prepared food takeout purchases (among those who did one of these in April), compared to a recent CreditCards.com studyconducted in December 2019:

Payment Method atGrocery StoreApril 2020*in-store purchases onlyDecember 2019*all grocery purchases
Credit Card46%27%
Debit Card39%50%
Payment Method atRestaurants/TakeoutApril 2020*take-out purchases onlyDecember 2019*all restaurant spending
Credit Card51%30%
Debit Card32%42%

“Americans may not have the available funds to pay right now, so they’re financing these purchases with credit, said Bankrate.com analyst Ted Rossman. “That also fits with another recent CreditCards.com survey which found 28 million Americans added to their credit card debtover the past two months. If you’re struggling financially, contact your credit card issuer to see if they can cut you a break. Many are lowering interest rates, waiving fees and rearranging due dates upon request.”

Surprisingly, people are shopping at the grocery store rather than using delivery services, and few are taking advantage of contactless payment methods (10%). Nearly 3 in 4 (72%) reported taking a trip to the grocery store, while 24% ordered some type of unprepared food delivery, including local grocery delivery (13%), a national grocery service (e.g., Omaha Steaks, AmazonFresh, Instacart, etc., 13%) or a meal-kit service (e.g., Blue Apron, Home Chef, etc., 7%).

Of those who had groceries delivered, 83% reported delivery issues, including items out of stock (54%), being unable to schedule a delivery (34%), high service fees (23%), the delivery arriving late (21%), food lacking quality/freshness (17%), a delivery being cancelled or never arriving (16%) and something else (4%).

Additionally, 28% ordered prepared food delivery from a local restaurant, and almost half (49%) picked up takeout from a restaurant.

Despite problems with delivery services, 62% of food-delivery customers tipped more than usual, including 21% who tipped much more. Only 6% tipped less.

Furthermore, when asked which statement they agree with more, nearly half of U.S. adults (49%) said having food delivered stimulates the economy and keeps people employed, while 26% said they feel bad asking other people to potentially put their health at risk to prepare and deliver the food. The rest (25%) are unsure how to feel about it.

Those who have ordered delivery are more likely to believe it stimulates the economy and keeps people employed (62%) than risks others’ health (27%). The Northeast stands out, with 67% who had food delivered believing it stimulates the economy and keeps people employed versus 60% of other regions.


Bankrate.com commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,659 adults, including 1,066 adults who had groceries or takeout delivered in April 2020. Fieldwork was undertaken on April 29 – May 1, 2020. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. It employed a non-probability-based sample using both quotas upfront during collection and then a weighting scheme on the back end designed and proven to provide nationally representative results.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...