Updated: March 25, 2020 11:11 PM
Created: March 25, 2020 10:47 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The desire for “social distancing” in the age of coronavirus has resulted in an overwhelming load for grocery shopping service Instacart.
As customers trying to stay out of supermarkets opt to seek delivery and are finding long waits and numerous items sold out in stores choked with customers, they’re turning to the service.
“It feels like everyone is panicking. And hard. Panicking very, very hard,” Instacart shopper Jessica Babin said.
She described the world of these personal grocery shoppers as frenetic in recent weeks as crowds trying to stock up in the days of coronavirus surged to the supermarkets, and surged to services like Instacart, and shoppers like her.
“It’s literally drop-off, new call, drop-off, new call,” Babin said.
Instacart customer Chelsie Gardner has used Instacart for about a year.
“Times are different and nothing is available. You just have to kind of roll with it,” Gardner said.
She said it’s never been like this with many groceries unavailable and orders that used to take a few hours instead taking several days to fill.
“My boyfriend and I were like ‘Well this is, like, Saturday. Good thing we’re not starving,’” she said. “But it was definitely a shock compared to the two hour delivery time that it usually is.”
A statement from the company says “Over the last three weeks, Instacart has seen the highest customer demand in company history.”
This week, it announced it’s planning to hire 300,000 new personal shoppers, 27,000 of them in New York.
“With all this chaos going on, it’s hard,” Babin said. “We can definitely use the reinforcements.”
Even now, the company says “Based on the current surge in demand, customers can expect to see delivery availability vary across stores during the busiest request windows.”
Although Babin, who’s also an Instacart customer herself suggested there are ways to hustle the process along.
“I’ll change stores,” Babin said. “So, if I go to Wegmans and it tells me I can’t have an order delivered for three or four days, I’ll try Walmart… I’ll try Tops, which is through Instacart. Or Aldi, Whichever can get me my stuff the fastest.”
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