Walmart Extends Grocery Pickup and Delivery Hours Amid Social Distancing Orders

While shoppers across the country report difficulty in online grocery shopping, including pickup and delivery, during social distancing orders designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, retailers are racing to fulfill orders by hiring more employees and implementing changes in formatting. Walmart told Business Insider that the company is extending grocery pickup and delivery hours to help meet demand.

After temporarily cutting hours back for grocery pickup and delivery during a sudden sales surge in early-to-mid March, a spokesperson for Walmart said recently that the company is extending those hours to help meet demand. Walmart's executive vice president of corporate affairs, Dan Bartlett, said last month that the grocery pickup business was "getting slammed."

"As we expand those hours back out, there will be more availability for customers now," a Walmart spokesperson told Business Insider. Starting last Friday, pickup and delivery hours returned to a schedule of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the rest of the week. Previously, hours had been cut back to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Walmart also shortened its advance ordering window from one week to two days in an effort to more accurately reflect in-stock levels to customers, since certain household items like toilet paper have been selling out quickly.

The company's plan to hire 150,000 more workers — mostly cashiers and stockers — should help alleviate pressure on stores. This is also good news for shoppers — some of whom have been refreshing grocers' websites late at night to try to snag time slots for pickup or delivery as soon as they become available.

An Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is "working hard to identify ways to deliver to more customers, like adding more delivery windows throughout the day and hiring over 100,000 positions across the US, enabling us to increase delivery window availability." They also said the company has "accelerated expansion of delivery and pickup from Whole Foods Market, and we'll continue to expand quickly to reach more customers."

Cities like Toledo, Ohio, West Des Moines, Iowa, and Wichita, Kansas have recently been added to Amazon's list of Whole Foods delivery cities, and the company also added more grocery pickup capacity last week in Boston; Dallas; Ft. Worth; San Francisco; Stamford, Connecticut; New Jersey's Gateway region; Springfield, Virginia; Chicago; and Minneapolis.

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Meanwhile, Kroger is also making changes to meet demand, tweeting Wednesday that it has expanded open pickup appointments from three days to seven days to allow for more customers to snag pickup time slots. One Kroger store in Cincinnati has been converted into an online-only location that will serve only pickup orders.

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