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Will grocery delivery services like Instacart and Shipt continue to thrive after COVID-19 is over?

Will grocery delivery services like Instacart and Shipt continue to thrive after COVID-19 is over?


Will grocery delivery services like Instacart and Shipt continue to thrive after COVID-19 is over?

America’s Food Chain: Instacart shopper says money is worth the riskWhile millions of Americans are unemployed, this Instacart shopper says he’s happy to keep working despite safety risks and increased competition.Trevor Hughes and Alexis Arnold, USA TODAYKara Moore, as a single mom to three kids, was determined to find a better-paying job even when the pandemic was in full force and unemployment across the country was rising.  In April 2020, after a simple Google search, Moore found a job working at Instacart, where she is still working today. “It was off to the races from there,” says Moore, who lives in Bel Air, Maryland. “I went from basically having nothing to having enough money saved up to put a deposit, first month and last month’s rent on a single-family home to rent for me and my girls.”Moore earns about $2,400 a month – about $600 weekly – through her Instacart work. Since she started, she has made over 1,200 deliveries and has become financially independent. Moore is just one of the thousands of shoppers currently working full time for a grocery delivery service. The boom in online grocery orders exploded once the pandemic hit in mid-March 2020.Prior to the pandemic, 81% of consumers had never bought groceries online. Once COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic,  79% of consumers quickly switched to online grocery delivery options, according to ► Time to shop: The best credit cards for groceries of 2021► Here’s how You can save nearly $200 on HelloFresh meals for a family of 4 right now U.S. online grocery sales totaled $7 billion in May this year, along with 66.8 million households placing an average of 2.8 online grocery orders that month, according to Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey. Although down from April, the numbers are still 3.5 times higher than pre-pandemic levels.Last year, Instacart said it was going to hire 300,000 shoppers to help keep up with the increase in consumer demand. Since then, it has hired more than 500,000 full-service shoppers on the platform, the company told USA TODAY. “The people I shop for, like repeat customers or new customers, they’re just very appreciative because of the whole pandemic. You know, not having to put themselves in danger and I love that it makes them feel good,” Moore said.Since March 2020, Shipt has added hundreds of thousands of more shoppers. To date, it has tripled the shopping community and has more than 300,000 Shipt shoppers nationwide. The company said speed is a motivating factor in using same-day delivery versus traditional shopping methods. “Many newer customers turned to services like ours because they weren’t comfortable going into the store themselves during a pandemic. But our data shows that they’ll continue to use our service well into the future,” Shipt CEO Kelly Caruso, told USA TODAY.There is now a plethora of online grocery delivery services.Along with Instacart and Shipt,  there are Amazon Prime Now, Fresh Direct and Walmart.► More: Can I get a refund for a Sam’s Club Groupon if the terms aren’t what I thought?► Get in line: Panera to give away free bagels for vaccinated customers July 2-4. Here’s how the COVID freebie worksBefore the pandemic, these online grocery orders were around but not nearly to this extent.They have become one of the many new normals of life. Caruso added that Shipt has known same-day delivery is here to stay and “the pandemic accelerated the already-significant growth trajectory of our business and our industry, placing us 5-10 years ahead.” Bryce Gill, an economist at First Trust Portfolios, an investment management firm, agrees, saying people were forced to use these services and found that they liked them.“That’s probably the driver, forced adoption that changed a lot of minds or at least demonstrated convenience,” he said.High demand has caused not only acceleration in grocery delivery services but food delivery ones as well. Doordash, one of the leading food delivery apps, announced in June that it’s expanding its grocery delivery service by partnering with Albertsons. Now, it’ll offer on-demand groceries from 2,000 stores – including Safeway and Jewel-Osco.This all comes after a rough start to the pandemic when grocery delivery slots were hard to fill.At first, there weren’t enough shoppers to keep up with consumer demand, meaning fewer time slots for customers. But things have changed. As of now, Instacart, for example, has enough shoppers to meet customer demand and has even created a waitlist for future shoppers.  The increase in demand has led to these grocery delivery services extending to thousands of stores, making them available to over 85% of U.S. households. Instacart partners with more than 600 national, regional and local retailers to deliver from 55,000 different stores throughout the U.S and Canada. The long-term trend of grocery shopping online has continued to accelerate and companies like Instacart and Shipt have a new resting heart rate. The acceleration has led to Electronic Benefits Transfer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program payments, alcohol and prescription delivery being available through the apps. ► Time to celebrate: Cheers to COVID-19 vaccination progress: Anheuser-Busch giving away free beer over July 4th holiday► Free food: Chipotle has a COVID vaccine incentive July 6: Buy-one-get-one free burritos, tacos and moreSuch success with grocery delivery apps has caused an upward trend in cross-shopping as well. Consumers are using both a grocery service and a mass retail service to buy groceries. In May, the percentage of consumers doing this jumped to 29%, compared to 15% pre-COVID-19, according to the grocery shopping survey.Shipt is one of those that gives the option for cross-shopping and the company said over 50% of random consumers they polled have said they will continue to use these services even after the pandemic ends. Shoppers like Moore don’t plan on leaving the company any time soon. “I’ve chosen Instacart over working in the family business and my deciding factor is because I need to raise my family and support my family,” she said. “My job here is allowing me to do that. I’m making more money now than with a college degree.”

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