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Instacart, Other Delivery Services Overwhelmed As More Residents Try To Avoid Grocery Shopping

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As Los Angeles County health officials urge residents to avoid grocery shopping this week and stay inside, more people are turning to already overwhelmed delivery services.

One grocery store in Pasadena was noticeably less busy Tuesday but some people were still showing up to shop saying there is really no other option.

Driver Matthew Gomez is staying busy during the crisis, especially this week when grocery deliveries are expected to ramp up.

"I'm doing Uber, I'm doing, Lyft, and I'm also doing Instacart," said Gomez. "The demand is definitely there."

L.A. County health officials are urging the most at risk and elderly residents to stay home and get their items delivered as the number of coronavirus cases climbs at a startling rate.

"If you have enough supplies in your home, this would be the week to skip shopping altogether," L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday.

Some residents may face challenges regarding the recommendation as many delivery services remain unavailable.

Amazon Fresh was one of the multiple delivery services without any delivery windows this week. Instacart provided shoppers a six-day window on when they might receive their orders, and said because demand was so high, orders would be taken when a shopper was available.

Delivery times were fully booked for Tuesday and Wednesday on Walmart Grocery.

Sara Sardo, who is pregnant and due any day, said she had to come to the store and shop.

"A lot of the spots on Amazon are taken, Whole Foods spots taken, Instacart is taken so you kind of get forced into it," she said. "And then they only have certain items...not everything is in stock."

"It's very difficult to get deliveries from grocery stores," said Jeanette Pavini who runs shopping blog BetterWaystoSave.

Pavini said these tips could help those trying to shop safer:

  • When you place an order, opt for the pick-up option.
  • Leave items in your online cart and keep checking back for delivery times.
  • Call and order ahead from smaller local markets.
  • Use farm delivery programs or other food box subscription services.

Pavini said another way to reduce grocery shopping is by using the food you already have.

"It is amazing what you can freeze," Pavini said. "You can freeze milk, you can freeze herbs, you can freeze so many things."

Health officials have also asked area stores to provide seniors with free delivery services for groceries and medications.

Instacart announced plans to bring on an additional 300,000 full-service shoppers in the U.S. to meet the increasing demand.

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