Is grocery delivery still not a thing in the US in 2016?

Is grocery delivery not a thing in the US still?
©Zsolnai Gergely / Fotolia

When it comes to grocery delivery, the US despite being a first-world country, is light years away from many countries in beautiful old Europe.

Grocery delivery is not a far fetch thing to accomplish for any supermarket, especially in big cities like NY or Chicago, where owning a car or parking is near to impossible.

While living in Getxo from 2004 to 2006, a small town by the sea near Bilbao, Spain, with 2 small children one in a wheelchair and the other in a stroller, this common and mundane feature of grocery delivery was and still is available from large chain supermarkets like Eroski, all the way to the mom-n-pop mini supermarket up the road from my apartment, which made my uber complicated life so much simpler! Packed foods, meats, deli, produce all the way to beer, sodas, wines and liquor were delivered to my home within a few hours or next day, however I wanted it.

If I needed the groceries for that same day, I would pack my two kids in my double stroller run to the store up the road (great exercise!) before 11 am (their cut off hour for delivery), place the items in my shopping cart, including fish, meats, deli-meats, all I needed for the day or the week, pay at the register and for a small fee (back then about 3-5 euros depending on the number of products) request to have them delivered to my apartment that same day. Go back home without any bags, I even had time to stop by the park for the kids to have some fun before heading home, and wait. At around noon the bell would ring and my groceries would be delivered straight to my kitchen table. Or I would shop online, pay the delivery fee during checkout and my groceries would be delivered the next morning, right on time to start lunch. NO bags or boxes to dispose off, everything was packed in the store’s reusable containers, and unpacked in my kitchen table, which was convenient for me while reducing the costs for the store. With the delivery guy I would go over my entire grocery list to make sure everything was accounted for, sign the delivery receipt and done.

My elderly parents did the same thing in Gorizia, Italy, so does my brother in Trieste, Italy and all our friends all over Western Europe.

The benefits for the grocery store? More local loyal customers, higher ranking over other stores not offering the feature, especially for small stores in big crowded cities no need for parking lots. The benefits for the city and the rest of us? Rather than having 10000 or more cars on the roads driving around grocery shopping, a few small size trucks could do the same job, which implies less traffic which means less pollution and a decrease in car accidents, the elderly not-suited to drive wouldn’t be on the roads, convenient for the disabled or anyone caring for a disabled or elderly person, for those working from home means higher productivity! The benefits of grocery delivery services are quite high for everyone.

In the US over 10 years later from my time in Spain, this modern grocery shopping feature is still not available by any stretch of the imagination. Not even my local Italian grocery stores Randazzo or Vince and Joe’s located less than 10 miles away from my house offer it. As the formal parent of a disabled teenager strapped on a wheelchair, grocery shopping required planning and lots and lots of logistics especially if my husband was out of town on business trips, and that on sunny days. Winter grocery shopping was hell. Not so first world country-esq after all, especially when all over the news the fight for transgenders to access the bathrooms of their choice seems to trump the rights of the disabled and the rest of the population.

I’m still desperate for this service so I did what everyone does these days, I googled it and what I found or didn’t find was very disappointing. It turns out a new service called InstaCart might be implementing the first world country feature I’ve been missing since we moved to Michigan, well sort of. The problem? Only literally a handful of locations are available, and the service is only available from a few stores. In my area, there is no service, from any major supermarket chain at all. Delivery is not that expensive, but prices for the groceries is. Since this is not a service offered by the stores themselves, but a third party service, prices especially on produce usually don’t match the ones in the store. So aside from having to pay a fee for the delivery, the grocery bill is higher compared to in-store shopping. The service is not quite near there yet, but it does have potential, assuming stores can input their prices and specials on a daily basis, otherwise it gets expensive to shop for groceries with this service.

In searching for other similar services I stumbled on Kroger’s HomeShop and Walmart Grocery and found the same issue. The delivery service is only available at a hand full of cities. Quite disappointing considering almost every city in the US has either a Walmart, a Kroger or both.

I stumbled on DoorToDoor Organics a Michigan based online grocery store. Their business model is to connect local growers and artisans with consumers, and even though they deliver to your door, the service isn’t quite the same, but it’s promising! So I’ve signed up and will be purchasing in the next few days. I’m a sucker for supporting my local businesses!

Another service Grannies Buggy available for the Metro Detroit area only which includes my area (finally!) offers grocery delivery. However delivery prices are quite high starting at $11.50. Grannies Buggy is not a store, but an online store that offers to buy your groceries for you (wherever they can find them) and deliver them to you, which translates in higher prices. Picture a guy with your shopping list going from place to place, not necessarily the store of your selection, getting the things you need. This is more of a concierge shopping assistant service than an actual store offering delivery of their products, similar in a way to InstaCart above. This service in particular even though might sound good, will increase your grocery budget by a lot!

So it turns out grocery delivery as we have it in Europe, is still not a “thing” 10 years later in the US on 2016.

Are there any supermarkets in your area offering grocery delivery?

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