Grocery delivery services overwhelmed by demand during COVID-19 outbreak

Log into any grocery delivery app right now, and you’re likely to get a message saying there aren’t any open delivery windows.

Companies like Shipt and Amazon say they are working hard to keep up with demand, while the Minnesota Grocers Association is urging shoppers to practice patience. 

“There’s incredible pressure on our grocery stores,” said MGA president Jamie Pfuhl. “It's creating challenges all through the chain and so that’s being felt even with delivery.”

Shipt says it is looking to hire 2,000 new shoppers in the Twin Cities area, as the company has seen a significant increase in orders and app downloads. Meanwhile, Amazon-owned Whole Foods said they “are working around the clock to continue to deliver grocery orders to customers as quickly as possible."

Drive-up orders are proving challenging as well, as stores like Target don’t appear to be offering high demand items like toilet paper for pick-up. Many shoppers say that’s forcing them to go inside and be exposed to others.

“I’m going into these stores hoping that I will find these products and I have no other reason that I need to be there,” said Jason from Minneapolis. He suggests flipping the model and making those items online-order-only. “If you eliminate the need for people to go to stores because they know they can only get those things online, I think you’re going to cut down on the large percentage of people who go every day.”

Pfuhl says they are in frequent discussions on how to improve the shopping experience during this challenging time. She offered several tips to shoppers to make sure everyone stays healthy and the store workers stay safe:

  • Designate a shopper. Don’t bring multiple family members to the store, rather pick one and leave everyone else at home.
  • You touch it, you buy it. Avoid picking up items and putting them back or thumbing through products. This reduces germs being spread on surfaces.
  • Stay six feet apart not just in check-out, but in the aisles and when interacting with the clerk.
  • Wash your produce when you get home.