Amazon has temporarily halted its Prime Pantry delivery service in the United States to allow time to restock groceries amid the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement, which came on Thursday, comes as the service – which sells non-perishable groceries such as soaps, cereals, and other products – has increased due to demand as shoppers practice social distancing and grocery store shelves across the nation remain bare.
"Amazon Pantry is not accepting new orders at this time while we work to fulfill open orders and restock items following increased demand," a company spokesperson said, according to The Daily Mail.
According to CNBC, a notice at the top of the Prime Pantry website reads, "Pantry is temporarily closed. We are busy restocking."
"Amazon Pantry is not accepting new orders at this time while we work to fulfill open orders and restock items following increased demand," a spokesperson told the outlet. "We are working hard to make these products available again and will update customers once we can take new orders."
Prime Pantry is not the only service to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, though. In recent days, customers attempting to order groceries via Whole Foods on Amazon's website, they have been met with messages reading "Inventory and delivery availability may be temporarily due to increased demand. Confirm availability at checkout." When attempting to add items to their carts, some have received pop-up messages saying "Item not added to cart" and "We're sorry, this item just became unavailable," according to The Motley Fool.
The impacts come as people turn to online retailers amid product shortages in their local grocery stores, with items such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and cleansers growing harder and harder to come by.
At this time, it is unclear when Prime Pantry will reopen.
The Thursday announcement came just days after Amazon, in a memo sent to third-party sellers, announced that it would be suspending all shipments of non-essential items to its warehouses, choosing to instead prioritize medical supplies, household staples, and other high-demand products.
"We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock," the company explained. "With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and deliver these products to customers."
"For products other than these, we have temporarily disabled shipment creation," it went on. "We are taking a similar approach with retail vendors."
Amazon explained that the policy would last from now until April 5.