Online grocery jumps in B.C., sags in Manitoba

Field Agent takes the pulse of Western Canadians, where Costco is beginning to eat into Superstore's popularity.


Household penetration of online grocery shopping is surging in B.C. and sagging in Manitoba, while Saskatchewan residents are making the most monthly orders compared with January / February of 2020.

That’s according to the latest survey by Field Agent, which focuses specifically on grocery shopping habits in Western Canada. The shopper research company surveyed 500 residents of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba earlier this month.

Compared with pre-pandemic levels, online grocery penetration in B.C. has jumped the most, with the number of households making at least one purchase a month rising by 11% to 30%, just behind Alberta’s 31% household penetration. Online grocery use rose by 6% to 25% in Saskatchewan, while Manitoba was the only province where it shrunk, dripping from 7% to 20%.

However, while household penetration is lower in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, those who do use online grocery there do so more often. Users in Saskatchewan make an average of 4.29 orders a month, while Manitobans make 3.8, both numbers that are up by just over one trip from pre-pandemic level. While many more people in B.C. are using online grocery, the average number of trips they make is actually down slightly, from 2.73 to 2.52. Albertans are making an average of 2.88 trips, up only slightly from 2.18.

Overall, compared with pre-pandemic levels, Western Canadians are making far fewer trips across groceries, drug, dollar store and convenience channels. Saskatchewan residents are reporting the fewest weekly grocery trips, while those in B.C. make the most.


Western Canadians were also surveyed about their favorite grocery banners, according to price, assortment, service, and overall experience below. Superstore topped the list, followed by Walmart, Costco, No Frills and Save On Foods (above).

Superstore’s popularity remains relatively unchanged compared to pre-pandemic levels; however, it has dipped slightly, and most of that affinity seems to have moved over to Costco. According to the Field Agent survey, Costco now has 25% share of Western Canadian monthly grocery spend in total. Compared with the same period last year, 29% of Western Canada respondents say they have increased their Costco spend, though that is partially offset by the 25% that say they have decreased it. The retail giant saw its biggest spike in Saskatchewan, with 39% of residents saying they’ve increased their spend compared with last year, with Manitoba not far behind at 38%.

As far as willingness to trial Costco’s same day delivery service powered by Instacart, 33% of survey respondents report being “likely” or “very likely to.”