As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic online grocery shopping is expected to grow by more than 30%, according to new research.

UK customers are forecast to spend an estimated £16.8bn on digital grocery shopping during 2020, an increase of around 33%, according to new research by Mintel.

While 2020 would mark the fourth consecutive year of growth for online grocery shopping in the UK, it comes after a period of stagnation for the channel, which only grew 2.9% in 2019.

In terms of overall ecommerce trends during the pandemic, Mintel found that 36% of UK consumers have increased the amount of online shopping they do, while half of customers reported trying to limit the time they spend in stores such as supermarkets and convenience stores.

Mintel found that, as one of the most vulnerable cohorts to the virus, the number of people over the age of 65 using online shopping for groceries has skyrocketed – up to 37%, from just 28% the previous year.

Despite this, the research found that some in this age group are still struggling with online shopping, with a quarter of respondents under the age of 44 reporting that they had been helping elderly or vulnerable friends, family and neighbours with their shopping.

Associate director of retail research at Mintel Nick Carroll said: “Over the course of just a few months, Covid-19 has had a seismic impact on Britain’s grocery sector.

“The pandemic is giving a significant short-term boost to online grocery services as shoppers look to avoid stores and limit their contact with the outside world. However, the impact will last beyond the crisis.

“Shopper numbers in the online grocery market have plateaued in recent years as retailers struggled to get new customers to try these services. The outbreak is bringing a new audience to online grocery, and this should boost the market long-term with strong growth forecast through to 2024.

“While there is currently a significant disruption to the online grocery market, with some retailers not accepting new customers, this will ease in the short term as more capacity is brought online.”