BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) — The week leading up to Thanksgving is normally one of the busiest grocery shopping days of the year. But with COVID-19 surging, and Erie County designated an "orange zone" (with the possibility that some areas could soon go "red"), shoppers and supermarkets had to use different strategies.
Tops and Wegmans have both implemented numerous safety protocols involving plastic shields, cleaning teams, social distancing, curbside pickup, and home delivery.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly spoke with shoppers at Buffalo's Broadway Market and the Amherst Street Wegmans. Each one had a different approach to getting Thanksgiving shopping done while keeping safe. For some it was going to the stores early, for others it was keeping out of supermarkets, and some people felt home delivery is the only safe option.
TOPS SHOPPING FAQ
7 Eyewitness News asked Tops to answer some last-minute shopping questions for those who still need Thanksgiving items:
What are the deadlines for Instacart this week? Online shopping with Tops Grocery Pickup or Home Delivery is available until 9 pm daily; however, due to high volume, we recommend ordering as early in the day as possible. Also, our stores will close at 4 pm on Thanksgiving Day and we recommend that orders be placed by noon or earlier that day.
What is the extra charge for Instacart? If a customer chooses Tops Grocery Pickup there is no delivery fee, service fee, or gratuity. When choosing Home Delivery, Instacart charges a service fee and a $3.99 delivery fee for minimum orders of $35 or more.
Are there other delivery options that people can consider? Most items available in-store are also available for purchase online for either Grocery Pickup or Delivery. For catering options, visit https://shop.topsmarkets.com/ [shop.topsmarkets.com
Is curbside a better option and what are the deadlines for this week? We provide both options to give our customers the choice for what works best for them. Whether they choose to use Tops Grocery Pickup or Delivery, we suggest ordering as early as possible. All Tops locations will close by 4 pm on Thanksgiving Day.
A viewer wanted us to check on items bought for curbside pickup. She felt they were slightly higher than going into the store and buying them off the shelf. Are curbside items more expensive? If they are, is that charge related to having an employee do the shopping? Although some prices at Tops may vary between in-store and online, the vast majority of prices and deals are the same in both. Again, if a customer chooses Tops Grocery Pickup, there is no delivery fee, service fee or gratuity. When choosing Home Delivery, Instacart charges a service fee and $3.99 delivery fee for minimum orders of $35 or more.
Any other last-minute tips would be great for our Thanksgiving shoppers. Wear a mask and practice safe distancing. Shop throughout the store so as not to forget things on your list of items you may not have thought about like aluminum foil or foil pans, turkey roasting bags, fresh breads, desserts, and floral arrangements. Also, if you do forget something, we are open to serve you until 4 pm on Thanksgiving day.
WEGMANS SHOPPING FAQ
7 Eyewitness News also asked Wegmans to answer the same last-minute shopping questions for those who still need Thanksgiving items:
What are the best times to go to the stores to avoid crowds this week? The first thing in the morning is usually the best time.
(Note: Wegmans has installed live web cameras at its bigger stores so customers can see how busy they are before they go. You can access a list of local Wegmans stores by clicking on this link)
What are the deadlines for Instacart this week? Using Instacart to place a grocery order for Thursday (Thanksgving), it looks like 2-3 pm is the last hour to order. Wegmans stores close at 4 pm on Thanksgiving.
What is the extra charge for Instacart? There is a slight upcharge on food items to be shopped, also an Instacart delivery fee, if you’re having it delivered (obviously no delivery fee if you’re getting curbside).
Are there other delivery options that people can consider? Wegmans works with Instacart for grocery/DoorDash for prepared food delivery.
A viewer wanted us to check on items bought for curbside pickup. She felt they were slightly higher than going into the store and buying them off the shelf. Are curbside items more expensive? If they are, is that charge related to having an employee do the shopping? Yes, there’s an upcharge to have someone “shop” those items.
Any other last-minute tips would be great for our Thanksgiving shoppers. From our newsroom on Wegmans.com [wegmans.com]
Tips for Customers: We encourage customers to keep the following tips in mind as they start to plan for their holiday celebrations:
- Plan ahead. The 2-3 days leading up to a holiday tend to be the busiest in our stores. Break your holiday shopping into two trips – one well in advance for your pantry staples, and the other closer to the holiday for your fresh items.
- Shop alone or in small groups. As we stay committed to running our stores well below capacity limits, we encourage our customers to shop alone or in small groups whenever possible. This makes it easier for customers to social distance in the store, while also allowing us to minimize the need for us to control the flow of customers in the store.
- Place online orders in advance. Online grocery orders through Wegmans.com [wegmans.com] or the Wegmans app can be placed up to seven days in advance.
INSTACART ALSO SENT A COMMENT TO 7 EYEWITNESS NEWS:
“COVID-19 has forever changed the way people shop for their groceries and goods. As shopping behaviors have shifted, Instacart has become part of the household rhythm and a lifeline for people across North America. The health and safety of the entire Instacart community remains our top priority as we look to the months ahead. We’re operating at a different scale than we were at the start of the year, and as a result of the adjustments we’ve made and fine-tuned over the last nine months, we’re well-positioned to safely and effectively meet any rising demand associated with a COVID-19 winter wave.
Since the beginning of the year, we’ve expanded our marketplace with more than 150 new partners and 10,000 new stores - giving customers even more retailer selection and variety. We’ve also implemented numerous health and safety offerings for shoppers and customers, more than doubled the size of the Instacart shopper community, and introduced a number of new tools and features designed to increase delivery availability for customers. We’re continuing to work closely with our retail partners to reflect variables like out-of-stocks, item limits, and adjusted store hours to ensure the best possible customer experience. We also recently introduced a special Senior Support Service to help seniors as they try online grocery delivery for the first time.
We’re continuing to keep a close eye on shifts in demand and to tune our service to ensure we’re prepared to meet the great responsibility of being an essential service for millions of Americans in the midst of the pandemic.”