Grocery delivery services overwhelmed by influx of orders due to coronavirus

WALLINGFORD – As of Friday, families were asked to do their shopping individually. The recommendation comes after Governor Ned Lamont ordered grocers to limit the number of people in the store to 50 percent of capacity at one time.

The new policy, another attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus, could push even more consumers to use delivery and collection services that are mostly busy.

On Monday evening, Gwendolyn Arral decided to seek help from the Wallingford CT Community’s Facebook forum in providing food to her at-risk parents.

The couple, in their mid 70s, live in Yalesville. Your father has prostate cancer. Knowing that they were at high risk of contracting the coronavirus, they turned to online food delivery services. But due to the increasing demand it came up short.

“My mom was really upset and couldn’t find anything using the online shopping services,” said Arral, a Torrington resident.

The post soon garnered over 100 comments, most of them from people who offered to help for free even though they had offered to pay.

“I was completely surprised and deeply moved, as was my mother,” she said.

Arral said her parents could place a pickup order with ShopRite for the weekend. She will likely seek help from someone who responded to her post.

“So many people volunteered,” said Arral. “There is still so much friendliness, there is still so much good in the world.”

Their experience is no different from that of many in the area who wish to source food from afar.

When her mother scheduled a ShopRite pickup, she had to call the customer service department to confirm the time as the website continued to give her error messages.

According to ShopRite, the demand for online shopping services is higher than ever.

“We are working on increasing capacity and expanding the time slots available for collection and delivery,” says the company’s website.

They ask customers to consider in-store inventory, which affects orders, as well as purchase limits for certain products.

The increasing demand for delivery services means more work for Instacart customers too.

Jennifer Matias, who lives in Meriden, said before the coronavirus hit the state, she was doing Instacart part-time, but chose to do it full-time when the number of orders grew exponentially. Now it usually sets in for 12 hour days.

“The high demand at the moment is crazy,” said Matias. “There were a lot of orders.”

Though she’s serving more and more orders, she’s also seeing more Instacart shoppers in the grocery stores. This week in Stop & Shop she said that 5 or 6 were handling different orders at the same time.

Customers create a “batch” for a specific grocery store using the Instacart app. Then buyers – independent contractors who have to pass a background check – collect the items at the store and deliver them home. Customers can choose a no-contact delivery, which means that the driver leaves the groceries at his door.

According to Matias, most of the customers are middle-aged and older. She is happy to be able to shop for them because she knows how important it is for them to stay home now.

“You are very grateful,” she said.

As the number of coronavirus cases increases across the state, demand for online groceries follows.

Stop & Shop has discontinued the pick-up service, but continues to offer Peapod deliveries. However, the supermarket has recognized challenges from “unprecedented demand” and delivery times are extremely limited.

“We have expanded the availability of delivery times, but given the challenge of keeping items in stock, we cannot expand at this point,” the company said.

On Tuesday, delivery times from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. until April 13th were sold out. No future data was shown on the website.

“Lower product availability doesn’t mean you can’t get the products you need. We can often replace similar items with out-of-stock items under a different brand name, ”said a message posted on the website.

Walmart is having similar issues with demand for pickup and delivery.

[email protected] Twitter: @baileyfaywright

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