Instacart’s Frantic Dash From Grocery App to Essential Service

Date: 2020-05-07 18:27:08

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Sooner than most, Instacart saw coronavirus anxiety starting to reshape the U.S. The company charges fees for its contract workers, called “shoppers,” to gather and deliver customers’ orders (and the occasional substitution) from among a list of hundreds of retail grocers. By mid-February, Mehta and his team were noticing unusual behavior. Demand for canned vegetables, toilet paper, powdered milk, and Purell—not the sorts of things people are usually thinking about around Valentine’s Day—spiked at warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club, then at Wegmans and Safeway a week later, especially in Covid petri dishes like Seattle and New York. By then, the usual midweek drop in overall grocery demand wasn’t happening.

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