Click and collect, an already popular option, finds a new gear

US click-and-collect sales more than doubled in 2020 and will sustain double-digit growth rates through 2024, per our latest estimates. We forecast that click-and-collect sales will follow up last year’s 106.9% growth rate with a 15.2% increase this year, and that 150.4 million people in the US will make a purchase via click and collect at least once in 2021.

The click-and-collect method for online shopping boomed in parallel with the generally exuberant embrace of ecommerce that characterized 2020. We estimate that US shoppers spent $72.46 billion via click and collect last year, accounting for 9.1% of all ecommerce sales. This year, those figures will increase to $83.47 billion and 9.9%.

The coronavirus pandemic led to outsized increases in click-and-collect sales and user adoption in 2020. Although those enormous leaps will not be repeated, we forecast that click and collect’s popularity is here to stay, and that there is still plenty of room for growth.

To put this in perspective, there were already 115.9 million people in the US using click and collect in 2018, generating $22.16 billion in sales. That accounted for 4.2% of retail ecommerce that year and reflected a 13.3% increase in click-and-collect buyers from 2017. In other words, click and collect was already in an early-adoption phase in the US before the 2020 pandemic dramatically accelerated the process.

Back in 2018, many buyers were infrequent users of click and collect or were lower aggregate spenders. That year, click-and-collect buyers each spent an average of $191.20 using the method. Last year, that figure surged to an average of $503.80, indicating much more regular usage.

“The story now is the degree to which click-and-collect growth is outpacing even ecommerce growth, despite ecommerce’s own eye-popping acceleration,” said Ethan Cramer-Flood, eMarketer senior forecasting writer at Insider Intelligence and author of our new report, “US Click and Collect in 2020 and 2021.”

It is widely understood that click and collect has been stealing share from in-store sales at brick-and-mortars (while simultaneously driving digital sales picked up curbside at those same locations), but it is less well known that click and collect is now also eating up a bigger and bigger piece of the growing ecommerce pie. Of the nearly $200 billion in new ecommerce spending in the US in 2020, $37.44 billion came from click and collect. Even though click and collect was only 9.1% of total retail ecommerce, it accounted for nearly 20% of ecommerce’s growth.

Throughout the pandemic months of 2020, ecommerce buying behavior surged in the direction of various click-and-collect options. According to a study conducted for us by Bizrate Insights, the percentage of US digital buyers using curbside pickup in 2020 increased over the course of the year, from 7% in February to 23% in December.

Finally, it is worth noting that the click-and-collect story is not just a US story. Digital buyers in several countries were already using click and collect at rates similar to those in the US even before the pandemic, and all are seeing strong growth. In fact, click and collect is already more popular in the UK than it is in the US, with 58.5% of the UK population projected to use click and collect this year.

After booming last year, click-and-collect user growth rates are expected to remain particularly high in 2021 in Italy (7.4%), Spain (7.3%), and Canada (7.2%), and each of those countries will see faster increases in new click-and-collect buyers than the US will over the next several years.