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Does moving your grocery shopping online save money?

Last Updated Jul 30, 2018 at 8:47 pm EDT

With grocery prices set to jump between three and six per cent over the next year, many shoppers are already looking for ways to trim their spending.

One expert believes the answer lies in ditching the grocery store cart in favour of a virtual one.

Personal finance expert Lesley-Anne Scorgie suggests that moving your grocery shopping process online can actually reduce your bill by between 15 and 20 per cent.

“It allows you better browsing. And when you can browse across retailers, you can choose to purchase places with better prices,” said Scorgie.

Another added benefit to shopping online, Scorgie said, is bringing your kids along to a bricks and mortar grocery store can influence how much we purchase, adding anywhere between 10 and 15 per cent to your final bill.

“When you’re online grocery shopping you can be more strategic, you can stick to a list,” adds Scorgie.

But mastering the world of online grocery shopping is indeed a process.

CityNews went to a downtown Toronto Loblaws store and bought five basics: organic bananas, ground beef, milk, toilet paper and a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. The bill came to $32.92.

Instacart, a service that delivers groceries from local stores directly to your home, was then used. The total bill for those same items came to $39.23.

While no money was saved for using online service, it’s because Scorgie said one needs to utilize a number of online tools in order to realize full savings.

Her approach begins with using online coupon apps such as Flipp that help you compare prices at all nearby grocery stores.

While this does require you to go into a physical store, Scorgie says the time you spend doing the research online translates to real savings in-store.

The other tool Scorgie suggests is a meal-planning app.

“This allows you to map out what you’re going to prepare for meals for the week,” she said. “Then you can focus your grocery shop on just the things you need.”

Scorgie admits there’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to using all these apps but she said once you do your homework and get familiar with them, that’s when you will see yourself saving money.

Currently, only between one and two per cent of food sales in Canada are done online.

But one analyst predicts that number will leap within the coming years.

“Within five years, we suspect that percentage will go up to five per cent,” said Sylvain Charlebois, Professor of Food Distribution and Policy at Dalhousie University.

And while that number may seem small, Charlebois says it translates into big money.

“Five per cent out of a buy worth $120 billion is still a lot of money. You’re looking at $5, 7, 8 billion generated by sales online.”