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Millennials’ Favorite Place to Buy Groceries Is Not a Grocery Store

Traditional grocery stores are struggling and the future of grocery shopping is shifting thanks to Millennials’ food-purchasing preferences. So where do they like to fill their carts? We asked 18-34-year-olds their favorite place to buy groceries to find out…

Grocers are struggling to get Millennials down their aisles. Federal data is showing that 25-34-year-olds spent an average of $3,539 on groceries over the last year, “about $1,000 less in inflation-adjusted dollars than people that age spent in 1990.” These younger shoppers are changing traditional grocery shopping by visiting supermarkets less frequently, perhaps thanks to the rise of online grocery services and the expansion of food offerings from other retailers. The financial crisis and Millennials’ delay in starting families are also being blamed—but the reality is that the grocery game is changing quickly.

Amazon just made major headlines with their purchase of Whole Foods, which is likely to accelerate their plans to be the grocery store of the future. At the end of last year, the brand unveiled their plans for Amazon Go—a physical grocery store that looks made for impatient, tech-savvy Millennial shoppers. The store has no checkouts, registers, or lines—instead, shoppers use an app to scan in, take what they’d like, and walk out. Any items taken with the shopper are added to a virtual cart and paid for with their Amazon account. Along with grocery staples and prepared foods, the stores will offer Amazon Meal Kits, which have all the ingredients to make a meal for two.  Of course, these magic stores aren’t going to be accessible to everyone anytime soon, and in the meantime, Millennials’ favorite places to buy groceries might not be the places that you think. In a recent Ypulse monthly survey, we asked 18-34-year-olds, “What is your favorite place to buy groceries?”* to find out where they prefer to fill up their carts right now. Here are their top 20 responses:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of places that Millennials most like to buy groceries—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The list is ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

What Is Their Favorite Place to Buy Groceries?


  1. Walmart
  2. Kroger
  3. Trader Joe’s
  4. Target
  5. Aldi
  6. Publix
  7. Costco
  8. Whole Foods
  9. Safeway
  10. Wegman’s
  11. Shop Rite
  12. Stop and Shop
  13. Meijer
  14. Harris Teeter
  15. WinCo
  16. Local Grocery store
  17. H-E-B
  18. Sam’s Club
  19. Amazon
  20. Sprouts

Millennials’ favorite place to buy groceries is actually not a grocery store—it’s Walmart. Despite their reputation for online shopping, and love for organic-shilling spots like Whole Foods, the retail chain was mentioned by the most respondents by far. Variety, prices, and convenience were the major reasons that 18-34-year-olds gave for naming the big-box brand as their favorite place to buy milk and veggies. The term “one stop shop” was used more than once, and a 32-year-old female told us she named Walmart because of the “[c]onvenience of being able to buy groceries while also having the ability to pick up other things I need. The prices tend to be reasonable as well.” 

With convenience and prices driving their shopping decisions, the industry is bound to shift. Grocery-focused chains will need to offer more, whether in experience, product-range, service, or tech-solutions, to draw in young shoppers.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here