In the past few weeks, customers in the United States have reported serious problems getting their groceries delivered to their homes. Finding a delivery niche via services like Instacart or FreshDirect seems almost impossible, since buyers are competing for a decreasing number of available times. And in cases where they are able to place an order, some report that their errands have been canceled, incomplete, or never arrived during the scheduled period. As stores and delivery platforms struggle to keep up with this increased demand, workers are worried about their own safety, to the point of going on strike to grab the attention of businesses.
For those who lack food and shopping options, this is a stressful time. Grocery delivery is an essential service for immunocompromised, elderly, sick or self-isolated clients due to contact with a sick person. Many states have issued home stay orders to curb the spread of the coronavirus, advising citizens not to go out unless it is for something essential, such as medication or food. The White House doubled this message on April 5, telling people not to go to the grocery store or pharmacy for the next two weeks if possible, as the number of Covid-19 cases nears its peak in the States -United.
During this 14 day period, it is inevitable that some people will lack food. In some places like New York, securing a grocery delivery niche is very competitive, especially from popular grocers themselves or high demand services like FreshDirect, Instacart, Peapod and Shipt.
The problem sometimes seems to vary by neighborhood, but nationwide, the demand for online groceries has increased. According to Rakuten Intelligence data, the number of grocery orders between March 12 and March 15 increased 150% from the same period in 2019. These grocery delivery platforms were also not designed to withstand a pandemic; they work best by handling a small percentage of orders for people who can afford it. Now, some customers are so desperate that they woke up in the middle of the night or set off alarms early in the morning to secure a delivery window, Eater reported.
Instacart advises customers to check delivery times frequently, to select replacements in case of shortage of their favorite items and to place an order with a neighbor or a family member via the “shopping cart” option. group”. The service recently introduced new delivery features that link a customer’s order to the first available buyer and allow people to schedule orders up to two weeks in advance. However, in most cities, it still seems difficult for an average buyer to schedule a delivery, and many have experienced complications when receiving their virtual order. FreshDirect issued a statement on April 6, saying it was struggling to open enough delivery times because fewer workers are working due to the coronavirus, but the company “is aggressively recruiting” and is streamlining its inventory for faster orders.
Food retailers and delivery services are trying to add thousands of temporary workers to meet demand: Walmart, the largest grocer in the United States, hires 150,000 workers until may; Instacart plans to hire 300,000 buyers over the next three months in the United States and Canada; and Amazon will hire 100,000 workers to help with online deliveries. Peapod and Shipt, Target’s delivery service, are also looking to hire thousands of additional workers.
Meanwhile, it appears fewer workers are ready to work shifts as news of coronavirus-related grocery worker deaths emerges. Supermarket analyst Phil Lempert told the Washington Post that grocery stores hadn’t taken enough precautions earlier to protect workers and allow them to wear masks or gloves.
” [Supermarkets are] is starting to become proactive now, but it will be even more difficult to hire hundreds of thousands of new workers, “he said. “We’re going to start to see people saying, ‘I’m just going to be unemployed instead of risking my life for a temporary job.’ Some workers, such as those from Instacart, Shipt and Whole Foods, have also gone on strike, taking part in walkouts or sick leave to protest higher wages, better sick leave and access personal protective equipment because more workers get sick at work.
Fortunately, there are many ways to buy groceries virtually without crossing a picket line or disrupting your sleep schedule. Local supermarkets offer same day delivery to a certain area, with some reserving special hours in the morning for elderly or immunocompromised customers. Across the country, local restaurants have also turned into makeshift grocery stores, selling meal kits, pantry staples, and even toilet paper that can be delivered. If you are looking to order food in bulk or share an order with a neighbor, many restaurant wholesalers or farm suppliers have started selling to the public and will deliver to your home.
In some communities, volunteers have also created self-help organizations designed to help those who have been unable to leave their homes or have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. These groups, dedicated to helping meet the needs of specific groups, have volunteers ready to help with errands and grocery deliveries. In Washington, for example, there are more than a dozen groups distributed by neighborhood, each containing contact points for those who can help. A group of able-bodied New Yorkers formed the Invisible Hands volunteer group to deliver supplies to at-risk residents in the greater New York area and parts of New Jersey. And in Los Angeles County, local authorities have launched an “essential delivery service” program for seniors and people with disabilities to get groceries delivered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
While trying to find the safest and most effective way to get groceries can be frustrating, especially as the number of Covid-19 cases increases, there are options beyond beyond the delivery services that many Americans are used to. In fact, with some workers continuing to strike against companies like Instacart and Amazon, turning to local companies for delivery might be the most ethical thing to do. The pandemic could significantly change the way we buy groceries, even after they are confined to the United States. For now, it’s best to plan ahead to fill your pantry and fridge, as health officials say the next two weeks will be a crucial turning point in the fight against coronavirus in the United States.
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