CBS Detroit - Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended the stay at home order Thursday to April 30. One of the things she suggested is that people do their grocery shopping online... easier said than done.
Before the Coronavirus hit, services from such major grocers like Meijer and Kroger were just catching on it seems. Many opting for the convenience of having a shopper pick their groceries for them, but many opting to go in-store the old-fashioned way and still do it themselves. Whether that was to save a buck or have the freedom to compare produce and price shop.
Now with COVID-19, that has changed immensely. With people trying to avoid contact with others, it would appear that the curbside delivery programs grocery stores put out cannot keep up with the demand.
In an article by the Detroit Free Press, shoppers are finding pickup times to be nonexistent. Or to pick up groceries, they have to do there shopping late at night, to find available pick-up times to be a week or more away.
Kroger, one of the nation's largest supermarket retailers, has already started research into expanding online pickup. Starting a pilot program, turning an Ohio location into an online location only.
According to the Free Press, Shipt is hiring 3,000 shoppers around Detroit to meet the demand. But even they have found the increased demand hard to give shoppers the fast and convenient pickup or delivery they expect. Telling shoppers to keep checking for openings.
Instacart which services Aldi, BJ's, Costco, Gordon Food Service, Meijer, Plum Market, and Target; is experiencing its highest demand ever. In an email to the Free Press, they said customer volume is up over 300% year-over-year. Downloads of their app being seven times higher.
So they have introduced "Fast & Flexible" and "Order ahead". Which spans an order's availability over a couple of days. So there can be more flexibility in fitting everyone in. Meaning your order may be ready sometime over a 3-6 day window. Otherwise, the Free Press found an order would take two weeks.
Even in my household, my wife prefers the online method too. Lately with Kroger and Meijer having virtually no slots available. Of what we did order, many of the things that we selected from the online apps were not included. Having more times than not having to go out to get our weekly supply of groceries.
However, like a lot of shoppers even we feel somewhat uneasy during these times. At our local Meijer, the area reserved for toilet paper was lined with Easter baskets, making us wonder if there was any hope inventories would be replenished.
Like anything, as the market changes, retailers will adapt, but that will take time. The Free Press reported stores are scrambling to fill positions, including in-store shoppers. With Kroger wanting to hire 2,000 in Michigan, and Meijer looking to 400 people.
What this all means, when the shelter in place orders are all over and commerce can once again resume as normal? Well, that remains to be seen, and what the new normal will be we don't entirely know yet. In the meantime practice social distancing, be flexible in your shopping, and try not to hoard supplies so others can have what they need too.
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