With an increase in demand as people stay at home, pickup and delivery order service at local grocery stores is taking much longer than usual.
While stores like Walmart and Safeway have not done away with grocery pickup, it’s likely shoppers will wait days before their order is ready or before they can even place an order.
When someone places a pickup or delivery order, they choose items online and select a time slot from a list of available options. Those time slots are getting booked a week in advance for some and residents are having trouble utilizing pickup service.
According to a Sahuarita Walmart employee, pickup orders were booked through the week by Tuesday last week, making the service unavailable to anyone who hadn’t already reserved a time.
Currently, if customers go to the webpage for ordering a message appears reading “There's some technical trouble. We're working on the problem now.”
Walmart’s corporate office could be reached for comment. Walmart nationwide on Saturday began limiting the number of customers allowed in the store at one time.
The Fry’s Marketplace in Rancho Sahuarita was also booked up on pickup times.
Kroger/Fry’s Corporate Affairs Manager Pam Giannonatti said they had shortened the window for pickup orders, but have since opened up additional pickup availability by a few hours.
“We have opened it to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. to better serve customers there in Sahuarita and we also have deliveries available six days a week,” she said. “So we are doing everything we can to get the product down there, keep shelves full and keep stores open in these unprecedented times.”
On Monday, there were deliveries available but the next availability isn't until Saturday. The soonest availability for pickups was Sunday.
Giannonatti said demand is causing those delays to pickups and deliveries.
“The demand is so high and everyone is using that service and filling up those spots,” she said. “People are really utilizing these services right now, which is awesome, because we want to promote that social distance, and we are doing the best we can to fill those orders.”
Fry’s uses Instacart, an online grocery delivery service that allows users to order and receive groceries from their home, for their deliveries.
Sprouts, which doesn't offer pickup services, also uses third-party Instacart for deliveries.
As of Monday, their earliest delivery time was Saturday evening. However, Instacart's website noted they are experiencing high demand and, "When you choose 'First available,' your order will be taken by the first available shopper."
Instacart reported an increase in deliveries of 30 to 50 percent each day in just the first week of March, a trend which has continued.
The Green Valley Safeway had delivery times available starting April 12, as of Monday. Pick up service was unavailable at both locations at this time.
Nancy Keane, public affairs for Safeway/Albertsons in the Southwest region, said demand is driving the long wait times and/or unavailability of pickup and delivery services.
“Our grocery delivery, pharmacy delivery and drive up and go services have been experiencing a higher-than-normal demand,” she said. “As we add open slots for delivery and pickup, they are being reserved quickly by customers.”
She said Albertsons and Safeway are in the process of hiring more associates, including delivery drivers and shoppers.
Safeway is continuing to follow enhanced sanitization protocols and deliveries are now “contact-free.”
Those interested in applying for a position with Safeway/Albertsons should visit www.safeway.com/careers. There are several positions available at the Green Valley and Sahuarita locations.
While Costco offers two-day deliveries on non-perishable foods and household items, their website noted deliveries are currently taking five to six days.
Delays and less pickup availability are likely to continue.
Keane asked non-seniors and healthy customers not to shop Tuesday and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m at Safeways. These are the store’s designated hours for seniors and vulnerable shoppers.
Giannonatti urged people to be mindful about their shopping during these times.
“I think what's important is that when people shop, only get what you need,” she said. “Shop responsibility so we can ensure everybody has access.”