Walmart Grocery surged past Amazon in app downloads on Sunday, suggesting a newly competitive phase for online grocery shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Downloads of shopping apps overall have surged during the pandemic, with downloads reaching 106 million globally between March 29 and April 4, and 14.4 million in the U.S., according to mobile data and analytics firm App Annie.
Walmart Grocery, Walmart's (WMT) - Get Report grocery shopping app, saw an all-time high in downloads on April 5, moving past Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report to take the top spot among shopping apps on that day. Walmart Grocery had historically lagged Amazon in day-to-day downloads.
Although Amazon already had a very high number of total installs, App Annie noted, Walmart's strong growth signals a surge in demand for the specific type of hybrid service Walmart can provide during the pandemic.
"The strong performance from Walmart and the shopping app category overall, highlights increasing consumer demands both in-store and online for essential items such as groceries, cleaning supplies and medicine," said Amir Ghodrati, director of market insights at App Annie. "As people continue to adhere to social distancing and quarantine advisories, we’ve seen retailers who are able to leverage mobile to provide timely in-store pickup and home delivery services perform particularly well.”.
App activity also suggests that Walmart is mobilizing workers to meet demand: Me@Walmart, a company app for Walmart sales associates, saw 220% growth in time spent on Android phones during the week of March 22 compared to one month prior.
The surge in online grocery shopping overall will likely result in strategic shifts among Amazon, Walmart and other players.
The overall surge in demand "creates an opening" for Amazon's competitors, according to Christian Magoon, CEO of Amplify ETFs and a specialist in retail stocks.
Shares of Amazon fell 0.54% on Thursday to $2,031.98, while Walmart's were up 0.40% to $122.24. Both have outperformed the broader market indexes throughout the coronavirus pandemic.