Poll: 20 million Americans got groceries delivered but felt bad about it


As US cities continue to seek shelter due to the novel coronavirus, the health of food suppliers weighs on the conscience of many Americans.

According to a new Bankrate survey, nearly a third of American adults who get groceries delivered feel uncomfortable asking others to risk their health to prepare and/or deliver groceries.

The survey also shows that credit card usage at places like grocery stores and restaurants has increased by 70 percent compared to December 2019 Bankrate data.

How US adults feel about grocery delivery

49 percent of US adults say meal deliveries boost the economy and keep people busy, while 26 percent say they feel bad about asking other people to risk their health to prepare and/or eat food deliver. 25 percent answered “don’t know”.

Of those who had groceries delivered, 62 percent say it boosts the economy, 27 percent feel bad about the risk of harming the health of others and 11 percent “don’t know”, compared with 59 percent, 32 percent and 9 percent respectively of adults who had groceries delivered.

Pain points when serving food

Specially highlighting US adults getting groceries delivered, 83 percent had at least one problem, with the most common problems being:

  • Items were sold out (54 percent)
  • Inability to plan a delivery time (34 percent)
  • High service fees (23 percent)
  • Late delivery (21 percent)

Polite clichés aside, Midwesterners in particular are most likely to complain about out-of-stock items. 68 percent of Midwestern residents did so, compared to 52 percent in other regions.

Where and how Americans buy groceries

Surprisingly, a large percentage of US adults (72 percent) bought groceries in person, compared to 42 percent who used various forms of delivery. If you look at grocery delivery, specifically:

  • 49 percent chose to take away
  • 28 percent had ready meals delivered
  • 13 percent had groceries delivered from a local store
  • 13 percent had them delivered by national services (such as Amazon Fresh or Instacart).
  • 7 percent had a meal set service delivered (e.g., Blue Apron)

In addition, older generations reported going to the grocery store more often than their younger counterparts. 77 percent of Gen X, 84 percent of Baby Boomers and 68 percent of the silent generation personally bought groceries in April 2020, compared to 52 percent of Gen Z and 62 percent of Millennials.

Credit card usage is increasing

When it comes to paying for groceries, the use of credit cards has skyrocketed.

As of April 2020, 46 percent of in-person grocery shoppers paid with a credit card, 39 percent with a debit card, and 15 percent with cash. Compared to data from a December 2019 Bankrate.com study, with 50 percent of grocery shoppers paying with a debit card, 27 percent with a credit card, and 22 percent with cash, credit card usage at grocery stores has increased by a whopping 70 percent.

“What that suggests to me is that a lot of people don’t have the cash to pay right now, so they’re financing those purchases with credit,” said Ted Rossman, industry analyst at Bankrate. “That also goes with our last one CreditCards.com survey which found that 28 million Americans have increased their credit card debt over the past two months.”

Leveling Forward: How to Give Back

For some, leaving home is not an option (or would be a serious health risk), making the work of delivery people for those in need a key part of getting essentials like groceries.

If you’re looking for ways to give back to grocery delivery workers, tipping — whether through the grocery delivery app itself or in cash — is a great option. In fact, the survey shows that 62 percent of those who ordered food delivered tipped more than usual (including 21 percent who tipped “much more”).

Charity for your credit card

You may have noticed that your own credit card is being used more often than cash as more transactions take place online. Consider whether you’re building rewards or have a stash to work with donate them as an option to redeem rewards.

While this method doesn’t magically gift a worker your credit card rewards, you are still providing help to an organization that needs it. Not every issuer offers fundraising rewards as a redemption option, but of those that do, some offer fundraising campaigns focused on coronavirus relief. American Express, for example, matches up to $1,000,000 Cardholder Points Donations to Feeding America.

If donating rewards isn’t an option for you, consider redeeming your points, miles, etc cash back Per gift cards and distribute them at your own discretion. You may not get the best bang for your buck as far as rating goes, but you will still use your earnings for the greater good.

Understand your limits

While giving money back is ideal, it’s important to organize your finances and calculate how much you can comfortably afford before donating, says Rudy Villa, financial planner and founder of IMPACT Money Management.

“The number one financial goal that someone must meet before giving money is creating a monthly budget,” says Rudy. “…I don’t want thoughtful and humble consumers giving money because they can’t support their family with groceries or are being charged for late paying rent.”


Bankrate.com engaged YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures are from YouGov Plc unless otherwise stated. The total sample size was 2,659 adults, including 1,066 adults who had groceries or take-out delivered in April 2020. Fieldwork was conducted from April 29 to May 1, 2020. The survey was conducted online and meets strict quality standards. A non-probability based sample was used, with both odds used upfront during the survey, and then a weighting scheme afterwards, designed and proven to produce nationally representative results.

Editorial Disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. The opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been verified or approved by any advertiser. The information contained in the review, including card rates and fees, is correct as of the date of the review. Check the dates at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most up-to-date information.


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