Grocery pickup services in high demand during COVID-19 concerns

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) If you are looking for a way to avoid going inside public places to get essentials such as groceries you may have tried one of the pickup options available at several grocery store chains. But some customers say they’ve had some challenges.

Photo by Amber Neeley

Amber Neeley has been using Kroger’s grocery pickup service for a while. The last time she went it was just before Easter. Monday even though the phone lines were down at her local store the experience was better.

“I didn’t have the wait, the lot wasn’t full of people like the last time I was there,” she said. “So I think going during a week day makes it a little bit easier of a process.”

Corporate Affairs Manager for Kroger Mid-Atlantic, Allison McGee said, “we have experienced an increase in demand for our Pickup service as customers seek alternative ways to shop for groceries.”

She said as of March 23 they are offering the pickup service for free and there is no minimum order threshold.

One of the biggest issues customers are facing now is similar to what traditional shoppers are experiencing. Many of the items they need aren’t available.

“About three-fourths of my order was not available and it was just typical every day stuff,” said shopper Tiffany Steele. “I tried to get off-the-wall crab dip and they didn’t have any in stock.”

Neeley has had a similar experience.

“What I have learned to do is to try and pick several different items. Like the regular cheese slices, Kraft or whatever they were, were not available so I made sure to put this off brand cheese that wasn’t as popular and it was available so I at least got cheese slices that way,” Neeley said.

Kroger has made a number of recent changes to its pickup service for customers during the pandemic. According to McGee, Kroger is expanding the number of available slots to customers daily.

A customer can now see and book up to seven days out versus the previous limit of three days. And a customer can now sort by next available time slot which she said gives customers the opportunity to look at a broader range of stores that might have a sooner pickup window

Beginning April 21 Kroger will accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for pickup.

We also reached out to Walmart. Kelsie Gibbs, Account Executive for Walmart said while they are no able to give out specific numbers for how many people are using their pickup service since the pandemic the service has remained very popular.

“Walmart has expanded pickup hours, increased the availability of pickup time slots, and reserved the 7 – 8 a.m. hour for customers over the age of 60, as well as first responders, customers with disabilities and anyone designated high-risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conveniently and safely pickup their Walmart order curbside and contact-free.” Gibbs said.

She said that customers can streamline their experience by reserving a day and time slot and placing their order several days in advance of picking it up.

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