Online grocery shopping has boomed since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. earlier this year. In May, Supermarket News, an industry publication, predicted demand from home-bound customers would push up sales up 40% in 2020.
That’s a lot of growth in a hurry. Some services have risen to the challenge better than others.
Early in the pandemic, many customers trying to book an order often found no delivery slots available. Now, the experience is improving, with more shoppers hired, improved apps, greater inventory in stores and customers who have learned how to manage the services, says Money, which recently ranked grocery delivery services.
Best online services for grocery shopping and delivery
Money singles out a handful as the best, pointing out that even some of those still receive complaints.
The publication deemed the following five companies best for:
- Low prices and one-stop shopping: Walmart
- Convenience, especially for Prime members: Amazon (grocery services include Amazon Fresh, Amazon Pantry, and Prime Now deliveries from Whole Foods Market)
- Basic groceries and service: Peapod and Shipt
- Delivery availability and store variety: Instacart
Better ways to save on rising grocery costs
Online grocery shopping shines for convenience and safety in a pandemic. Generally, though, you pay a price for the service — such as in delivery fees, tips or other add-ons.
According to Money’s report:
“By the time delivery fees, markups, and tips are included, online grocery shoppers could easily be paying 20% to 30% extra.”
Are there cheaper options that still are pandemic-safe? Here are several ways to hold down grocery prices:
- Order online and pick up your order. You may be able to skip delivery fees by ordering online and picking up your groceries from stores offering the service. Start your search with “11 Grocery Stores Offering Free Pickup.” Experiment with various local pickup options to find the most cost-effective one.
- Find a cheaper grocer. One grocery store stands out in a recent review of prices at three lower-cost chains, as we report in “This Grocery Store Is Cheaper Than Even Walmart.”
- Use your own “middleman.” Doing your own shopping cuts out all the “middleman” costs associated with delivery and pickup services, but safety trumps all else. If you are at higher risk for the coronavirus, such as due to age or underlying conditions, see if friends or family will shop for you when they go to the store.
- Shop smarter. If you are able to shop safely on your own, follow these “13 Unusual but Effective Ways to Save on Groceries.” And save money by learning which “20 Things You Should Never Buy at the Grocery Store.”