Children, Income, and the Impact of Home Delivery on Household Shopping Trips

Expanding e-commerce and delivery benefit consumers through increased flexibility and convenience. However, there is a potential impact on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by delivery and personal vehicles, and the resulting energy consumption, air quality, and congestion. Delivery trips could replace personal vehicle trips, but, if not a replacement, could add to (or supplement) shopping-related VMT for a given household. We examined the benefits of e-commerce to consumers and the impact on personal shopping trips, and how these differed across item types, household child status, and income. We found that high-income households and households with children cared relatively more about time saving from deliveries. We found that, on average, deliveries substituted for 12% of vehicle shopping trips, but supplemented personal shopping trips for 9% of purchase deliveries. Underlying these averages were two main types of households: those for whom all deliveries substitute for trips (between 55% and 70% of households) and those for whom all deliveries supplement trips (between 20% and 35% of households). There was significant heterogeneity across households with and without children and with high or low incomes with respect to the use of delivery. Although time savings were more likely to motivate higher-income households and households with children to use delivery, this did not translate through to these households substituting for more of their trips; deliveries of prepared meals for both these categories of household were relatively more likely (15% for households with children, and 12% for higher-income households) to supplement, and not substitute for, personal trips.

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    • The data used in this analysis were collected as part of the WholeTraveler Transportation Behavior Study. The data from the WholeTraveler survey are not yet publicly archived, but they will be in the future. Researchers interested in the data used in this analysis should reach out to the authors, specifically C. Anna Spurlock (, to inquire about access. © National Academy of Sciences: Transportation Research Board 2020.
  • Authors:
    • Spurlock, C. Anna
    • Todd-Blick, Annika
    • Wong-Parodi, Gabrielle
    • Walker, Victor
  • Publication Date: 2020-10


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01746507
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jul 19 2020 3:05PM