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Online & BNPL: Young Europeans Don’t Shop For Food The Same Way

Each country in Western Europe has its own specificity when it comes to food shopping,  and these three charts tell you the whole story…


  • Three-quarters of young Europeans are primary grocery shoppers, meaning they have full control over what food brands go in their food cart
  • Young consumers in the U.K. are more likely to be shopping online than their European neighbors
  • BNPL is on the rise in the region, and young Europeans are using this means of payment for their food shopping, too

Data from YPulse’s recent WE Food Shopping & Trends Report shows that the majority of young Europeans shop for food once a week or more (55%), but with inflation, young consumers in Western Europe have had to reconsider what, where, and how they’re buying food. While we know nearly all young consumers in the region have seen their bills increase, meaning their budgets are being tightened, the way Gen Z and Millennials shop for food is not exactly the same in all five countries. Let’s start with how many young consumers in each Western European country are responsible for grocery shopping in their households:

The majority of young consumers in the region are responsible for food shopping, especially in Germany

In Western Europe, three-quarters of Gen Z and Millennials are primary grocery shoppers (74%), meaning they are the main decision-makers when it comes to what type of food and brands should be bought. Germany is the country in Western Europe where young consumers are the most likely to be in charge of grocery shopping in their households. It should be noted that there is a generational divide when it comes to food shopping: less than half of European Gen Z say they’re responsible for doing the grocery shopping (45%), while it’s almost nine in ten for European Millennials (87%).

But that doesn’t mean only Millennials have a say in what goes in the shopping cart, and data from WE Food Shopping & Trends Report shows that half of young Europeans who are not primary shoppers have a say in what food is bought at home. We’ve also asked Millennial parents if their children influence their food shopping, and 70% answered “yes,” underscoring how European Gen Alpha are important decision-makers when it comes to what goes in the shopping bag. YPulse dug into the influence of Gen Alpha over household spending in our recent Gen Alpha Spotlight Trend Report, and our data shows that more than three in five Millennial parents (68%) say their children influence their regular purchases, and it’s products like clothes / shoes, toys, and food that their children are influencing them to buy the most.

Gen Z and Millennials in the U.K. are leading the way when it comes to buying groceries online

In Western Europe, 47% of Gen Z and Millennials have ever shopped for their groceries online. It’s a lot more in the U.K., where buying food online seems to be normal practice among young consumers: three in five British Gen Z and Millennials have already bought food online, which is around +20pts more than in other European countries like France, Germany, and Italy. The global pandemic helped the market of online groceries get to the next level, and it’s no coincidence that it was around this time that Amazon got into the market in the U.K. Since then, the tech giant has expanded its food shopping service—Amazon Fresh—where consumers can buy food but also to collect in store the groceries they bought on Amazon.

YPulse informed you how young Europeans are reconsidering their budgets in the face of the current cost-of-living crisis, and our research shows that the top thing they changed about their spending to fight inflation is to reduce food consumption and expenses. Meaning, they’re passing on more expensive products like premium organic food, which has seen a dip in consumption last year, and instead looking for deals, promotions, and ways to lighten their food budget. European Gen Z and Millennials are already used to buying everything online, so it makes sense that nearly half of them have already done their grocery shopping online (47%). More young consumers in Western Europe will probably be buying food online in the future, especially if brands are offering special discounts to make it more alluring than in-store grocery shopping.

Young Spanish consumers are using BNPL for their food shopping the most in Western Europe

On average, 14% of European Gen Z and Millennials have already used buy now, pay later schemes for their grocery shopping. Inflation has hit the continent hard in the past year, so young consumers are turning to installments so they can spread the costs of what they buy. While only one in ten young consumers in Italy and the U.K. has used BNPL for food shopping, 17% in Spain have, making it the country in the region where young consumers have already used BNPL for their grocery shopping the most.

YPulse informed you of the rising popularity of BNPL services in Western Europe, and how Gen Z and Millennials are increasingly using these services because it gives them the ability to spread payments out over time while offering them a lower overall cost than other loan services. Data from YPulse’s WE Shopping and Retail Report also shows that 35% of European Gen Z and Millennials have already been using buy now, pay later schemes to shop, and a further 32% say they’re interested in using them. There are signs that the trend of BNPL is here to stay: Apple just started to offer BNPL options to young consumers, who can now use BNPL from their iPhone, or their Apple Watch. And with the U.K.-based fintech company Tymit announcing it raised £23M to sell its pay-in-installment services to brands as a white label, BNPL will likely become more accessible to many brands, and become even more mainstream than it is now.