Customers are getting used to the idea of buying produce from the online retailer.
Credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

It’s easy to see why Amazon decided to buy Whole Foods: Assuming the deal goes through, with one fell swoop, the massive online retailer will be an immediate player in both the grocery market and the brick-and-mortar landscape. But according to recently released numbers, Amazon is already making significant headway in grocery sales months before that deal is even closed.

A new report from e-commerce data firm One Click Retail says that Amazon’s second quarter grocery sales this year were up 50 percent over last year. Perishable items, though a small part of Amazon’s overall grocery sales, were particularly strong, growing 110 percent over the same time period. Perishables are an interesting indicator of shopper sentiment because customers tend to be warier of buying these shorter shelf-life items from a place like Amazon.

“Amazon's recent investments in the grocery space have put a focus on perishables through the Prime-exclusive Prime Pantry program,” One Click Retail noted according to FoodNavigator-USA. “As Prime membership continues to rapidly grow – Prime Day on June 11 was the busiest single signup day in the history of the program – perishables follow suit, driving a growth of 110% in the US during Q2.”

Still, Amazon’s top selling grocery products tend to be old shelf-stable standbys. The top categories based on total dollar sales were coffee, snack bars, bagged tea, energy drinks, and chocolate candy. In the US, the single top-selling item was Keurig Single-Serve K-Cup Pods, Medium Roast.

Overall, Amazon’s entire grocery market is small compared to the larger players: The online retailer had just $420 million in sales during the quarter. By comparison, Whole Foods had $3.7 billion in sales. Meanwhile, in its most recently reported quarter (2017 Q1), Kroger had over $36 billion in sales. Still, Amazon’s year-over-year growth far outpaces both of those brands and is likely a sign that people are already starting to consider Amazon as a grocery destination even before it takes over Whole Foods.