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The Whole Foods location in South Lake Union, after Amazon’s acquisition. (GeekWire photo / Taylor Soper)

A new national survey shows it’s a two-store race when it comes to buying groceries online, but there’s no clear leader overall.

The research from the Retail Feedback Group finds overall satisfaction ordering food and grocery items is the highest with Amazon and then Walmart, followed by other supermarkets and food stores. Of a dozen elements that online shoppers look for — from ordering to fulfillment — Amazon shoppers rated seven elements significantly higher than Walmart customers, and eight of the 12 elements higher than supermarket/food store shoppers.

However, when it comes to popularity, the market research firm’s “2018 U.S. Online Grocery Shopper Study” found a higher percentage of online food shoppers most recently visited Walmart’s site for groceries. That dislodges Amazon from the No. 1 position it had in 2017. Local stores, many of which have delivery handled by Instacart, were again in third place. Instacart, with 300 retail partners, had worked with Whole Foods before Amazon purchased the chain.

Bloomberg noted that Walmart has moved ahead due the rapid rollout of its curbside grocery pickup service, now in roughly 2,000 stores with an additional 1,000 due by the end of 2019. For its part, Amazon offers grocery delivery from its Whole Foods Market stores for Amazon Prime members, said to now be in more than 60 cities.

On Wednesday, Amazon announced it had expanded grocery pickup from Whole Foods Market through Prime Now to eight more cities, including Tacoma, Wash., San Antonio, Texas, and Long Island, NY. The company says pickup is now available in 22 cities after the service launched in August.

One surprise in the numbers? A huge jump in the percent of shoppers buying produce online, which at 42 percent reflects a year-to-year increase of 50 percent.

The national survey found increases in fresh food online shopping since 2017. (RFT Image)

“The willingness to purchase fresh items in higher frequencies than last year illustrates that providers are improving in their ability to overcome objections that historically have been limiters in these areas,” said Brian Numainville of RFG in a statement. “While there is still room for growth, this finding provides encouraging news for retailers and others offering online food shopping services.”

The survey is based on a nationally representative sample of 760 people who said they’d shopped online for food or groceries in the past 30 days.

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