Amazon starts fast and free grocery delivery in London; nationwide roll out by year-end

A worker assembles a box for delivery at the Amazon fulfillment center in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

Amazon will begin fast and free deliveries of groceries in London on Tuesday, with the aim of rolling out the service across the United Kingdom by the year-end as the coronavirus-driven lockdown boosted online sales of essentials.

The e-commerce giant said it has added the ‘Fresh’ service to its UK website to deliver meat, produce, snacks and other household essentials in two-hour windows for orders above £40, with no shipping charges for its ‘Prime’ members.

Industry data showed that grocery sales in Britain rose 14.6 per cent in the four weeks to July 12 compared with a year earlier, though it was slower from previous weeks as restrictions to contain the novel coronavirus were eased.

The online channel now accounts for 13 per cent of all grocery sales in Britain, up from 7.4 per cent in March, according to Kantar data. In the four weeks to 12 July, online grocery sales has seen an increase of 92 per cent, maintaining the lockdown growth momentum.

A new report by HIM & MCA Insight predicted this growth in home delivery of grocery items is set to continue.

While 29 percent of shoppers are shopping online for food and drink more than before the lockdown began, 20 percent of these shoppers plan to continue to use grocery delivery services more even when lockdown has ended, the UK Recovery Report 2020 has noted.

Amazon’s ‘Fresh’ challenge is set to intensify the competition in online grocery delivery market with food delivery giants already stitching up partnerships with both supermarkets and convenience stores.

Deliveroo, in which Amazon has a 16 per cent stake, has been growing its footprints in grocery delivery partnering with Co-op, M&S, McColl’s and PayPoint.

Deliveroo rival Uber Eats has a strong presence in the convenience sector, after sealing deals with Bestway Retail and Costcutter last year. The company has also started a trial with Asda this month.

At least 600,000 deliveries went out from convenience stores each week as of early June, as per the Association of Convenience Stores estimates.