Since the beginning of the pandemic, Americans have explored new and different ways of doing everyday tasks. One of these tasks is grocery shopping–a formerly routine errand that took on greater weight when lockdowns, shortages, and the tumult of the pandemic set in earlier this year. 

And while some continued to wear masks and wait in lines at grocery stores, others took their shopping online. But how exactly have consumers been navigating these waters given 60% of U.S. adults are comfortable with general shopping in stores? CivicScience asked more than 6,000 U.S. adults about their experience with grocery delivery. 

As the data show, grocery delivery usage saw a dramatic uptick in Q2, peaking in Q3. However, since July, usage and intent have dropped slightly.

Opinions on the future of grocery delivery are keeping in step with the data above. While a growing number of consumers in Q2 and Q3 believed that grocery delivery would become prevalent in the next five years, those percentages have recently begun to return to pre-pandemic levels. This suggests that while grocery delivery may have been relevant at the height of lockdowns, interest is fickle. 

Instacart, one of the most well-known grocery delivery services available, is another possible indicator that interest in grocery delivery is waning. 

As of February 2020, usage was at 17%. This steadily rose to peak at 22% in August, but fell back to 20% in September.

This shift in interest may be related to comfort levels in public spaces. In just the past month, those who are the most concerned about being in public spaces have also used grocery delivery the most. So while usage may be currently decreasing, it is very possible that interest in grocery delivery coincides with the peaks and valleys of concern over the coronavirus.

Age is also a factor, with parents as well as those aged 25 to 54 being the most likely to have used or intend to use grocery delivery thus far. 

Why might this particular demographic be interested in grocery delivery? One answer could be stress. Those who have tried or intend to try grocery delivery appear to have experienced the most stress in the last week. This suggests that the convenience of the service could still appeal to those under pressure. 

The correlation is especially strong in terms of back-to-school stress, with those parents who report the most stress making back-to-school decisions also reporting the highest rates of usage and intention to use grocery delivery services. 

As the data show, grocery delivery had its widespread 15 minutes of fame earlier this year, when lockdowns and mounting uncertainty about the virus kept many Americans indoors. However, as many families balance the return of school–in person or otherwise–grocery delivery could have found its niche amongst stressed parents this fall.