Online SNAP Grocery Purchases Increase

More than 1.1 million U.S. households used SNAP to buy food online during September.

November 17, 2020

WASHINGTON—The number of U.S. households using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or food stamps, to buy groceries online has seen a 50-fold increase this year after the Department of Agriculture (USDA) expanded options for food stamp recipients to shop online, reports

Online grocery shoppers make SNAP purchases through Amazon and Walmart, which are the only retailers in most states allowed to participate in the USDA’s online shopping benefits pilot program. In September, more than 1.1 million U.S. households used government benefits to purchase groceries online, although that is a small fraction of people receiving SNAP. According to recent SNAP program data, more than 22 million households received food stamps in April. 

The USDA allows only eligible food to be purchased with SNAP benefits, which excludes delivery fees and other related charges.

In October, Instacart announced a SNAP integration partnership with Aldi to allow participants to access fresh food and pantry staples from the discount grocer via Instacart’s same-day delivery and pickup services via the website or mobile app, as NACS Daily reported. The multi-phased launch was slated to begin in Georgia with more than 60 Aldi stores, with plans to expand to more than 570 stores across Illinois, California, Florida and Pennsylvania in the coming months.

Out of the 152,720 convenience stores in the United States, more than 111,000 participate in SNAP—representing about 45% of all retail outlets authorized to accept SNAP benefits. Convenience stores are often the only establishments easily accessible by walking or public transportation, or the only food retail locations open for business with extended or 24-hour service.

The NACS Crack the Code Experience, which runs through Dec. 4, offers a close look at today’s various cashless payments—a service that consumers now expect during the current pandemic. Don’t miss the education session “From Last Mile to Cashless: Trends Accelerated by COVID-19,” for details on payment options ranging from e-commerce penetration and last-mile delivery to dollar channel growth and more. Register now and get access to these sessions, along with 50+ education sessions, virtual showrooms and online networking within the convenience and fuel retailing industries.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.