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Grocery stores are one of the few places you can go these days, but long lines, social distancing requirements, and health concerns have led many New Yorkers to avoid them altogether, creating a very high demand for grocery delivery services during the pandemic.
All you have to do is place an order and sit back while an employee (hero!) does the work for you picking out your items. You will get a text if your preferred brand of paper towels or seltzer flavor is sold out, with a suggested replacement. And, restaurants, their wholesale suppliers, and even caterers, are delivering groceries to help you get through the pandemic—so you have more options than usual right now.
But you need to plan in advance: Very high demand for these services means a long wait time for delivery time slots, sometimes a week or even more.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post was published in February 2019 and has been updated with new information for April 2020. Click here for more of Brick Underground's coronavirus coverage.
Brick Underground rounded up 10 of the top grocery delivery services like Instacart, Mercato, Shipt, and PeaPod to see what sets them apart and what their delivery fees are like.
Keep in mind that most services have delivery minimums and fees, and you must tip your shopper. But, the fees are worth it, especially if you’re sick or have been exposed and need to remain isolated.
The lowdown: Instacart was founded in 2012 and delivers from national chains like Aldi, BJs, Costco, ShopRite, and Target. Plus, NYC staples like Fairway, Keyfood, and The Food Emporium. You can also schedule delivery in advance, and you can choose back-up options in case your first choice is sold out.
Fees: Instacart’s delivery fees range from $4 to $8, depending on what time you have your order delivered and the size of your order—plus a 5 percent service fee. Delivery fees are higher during busier times, and there is a $10 delivery minimum. With Instacart Express, a membership of $99 a year or $10 a month, all orders over $35 are delivered for free and with a reduced service fee.
Location: Instacart is available city-wide, but stores vary by neighborhood.
The bottom line: If you want the basics from your go-to grocery store, but don’t have patience for the long lines. (Or you want Costo’s croissants but don’t have a membership).
The lowdown: Mercato was founded in 2015 and delivers from independently-owned butchers, grocery stores, and specialty shops (a great way to support local businesses during the pandemic). Every retailer is picked based on quality and has their own page that includes Yelp reviews and information about the business.
Fees: Mercato’s delivery fees range from $5 to $25, depending on how far you live from the store. With the Mercato Green membership, the Neighborhood Plan (stores within three miles), cost $8 a month, and the City Plan (stores within 10 miles) costs $23 a month, you can get unlimited free delivery (plus they plant a tree for every Green order placed).
Location: Mercato is available city-wide, but stores vary by neighborhood.
The bottom line: If you want to support your local deli or specialty shop, or the cold cuts from Fairway aren’t cutting it.
The lowdown: Amazon Fresh was founded in 2007 and offers delivery to Amazon Prime members from local stores. Members can also get two-hour delivery from Whole Foods. Because of high demand, Amazon Fresh is currently available to new members by invitation only.
Fees: Amazon Fresh is free for Amazon Prime members ($13 a month or $119 a year) and you only have to pay a delivery fee if the order is under $35.
Location: Amazon Fresh availability varies by zip code but is available throughout NYC.
The bottom line: If you’re a Whole Foods-feen, or need more than just groceries.
The lowdown: Boxed was founded in 2013 and delivers bulk-sized groceries and household items. Their “Express Grocery” program hand-delivers groceries in bulk from chains like Costco at your selected delivery time and delivers non-perishables in one to three days. All express orders are delivered in reusable grocery bags for you to keep or recycle through their program for a $1 credit.
Fees: Boxed offers free delivery for orders over $49. For orders less than that, shipping is $7. Boxed Up, $39 for your first year then $49 after, gets you free delivery on all orders and 2 percent cash back.
Location: Boxed is available city-wide, but their Express Grocery service varies by zip code.
The bottom line: If you have a large family (or a lot of roommates) and need to buy in bulk.
The lowdown: Shipt was founded in 2014 with delivery from retailers like Costco, CVS, Target, Petco (pets need to eat too), and various grocery stores. Their shoppers are trained to pick the highest quality produce and products and you can text them along the way if you forgot an item or something is out of stock.
Fees: Shipt requires a membership and has options, $99 a year or $14 a month. Delivery is free on orders over $35 and there’s a $7 delivery fee for small orders. Select retailers have a service fee.
Location: Shipt is available throughout NYC, but retailers vary by zip code.
The bottom line: If you need someone to pick up your Target essentials and your cat’s treats from Petco too.
The lowdown: Fresh Direct was founded in 1999 and delivers both groceries and household items. They custom-pack your groceries through a short supply chain to maintain freshness, quality, and reduce waste. And, there’s new weekly deals and a slew of prepared foods and meals to choose from.
Fees: Delivery fees are $6 with a $30 minimum. With DeliveryPass, $79 for six months or $129 a year, you get unlimited free delivery and time slot reservations. There’s also a fuel surcharge.
Location: Fresh Direct ships to all of NYC.
The bottom line: If you want to get all of your groceries and cleaning supplies delivered as fast as possible.
The lowdown: FoodKick was launched in 2016 by Fresh Direct to offer grocery and alcohol delivery in New York City. In addition to grocery staples, they also partner with small and local businesses on a rotating selection of items (Think: beer from Bronx Brewery, fresh baguette from Brooklyn Mills, and chimichurri from Haven’s Kitchen).
Fees: FoodKick’s delivery fee is $5, or $6 if you want your order delivered in an hour. You can get unlimited free delivery with DeliveryPass, $10 a month. There’s a $30 delivery minimum.
Location: Delivery is available in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
The bottom line: If you miss drinking at your local brewery and also need some groceries to soak up your quarantine happy hour.
The lowdown: PeaPod was founded in 1989 and delivers groceries and household items from Stop & Shop. You can shop with filters like dietary restrictions, save with weekly deals, and they also partner with brands for meal kits like chicken pot pie by Campbell’s and Moroccan chicken thighs by Swanson. There’s also Order Genius and Express Shopping features for a personalized experience.
Fees: There’s a $60 minimum with a $10 delivery fee and orders over $100 have a $7 delivery fee. There’s also a fuel surcharge.
Location: PeaPod delivers to various zip codes throughout NYC.
The bottom line: If you want to avoid the lines at Stop & Shop or want groceries and meal kits.
The lowdown: Max Delivery was founded in 2004 and delivers groceries, household items, alcohol, and specialty items. There’s a "Best of New York" category with items from NYC spots like Murray’s Cheese Shop, Dylan’s Candy Bar, and Balthazar Bakery.
Fees: All orders over $125 deliver free and small orders have a fee of $6. There’s also a small service fee at checkout.
Location: Delivery is only available in Manhattan below 114th Street, and you can check availability for your zip code here.
The bottom line: If you really want that Brie from Murray’s but you also need to be responsible and buy real meals too.
The lowdown: Farm to People was founded in 2013 as a subscription service delivering fresh, seasonal produce directly from farms plus artisanal products from small and local brands. Their produce is not genetically modified, their meat, dairy, and egg products are all cage-fee and are mostly organic and GMO-free. You pick one of their farm box bases and then customize, essentially like a farmer’s market delivered to your door. They also offer á la carte shopping.
Fees: Delivery is free for all orders over $50, $5 for orders between $25 and $50, and $10 for orders under $20. There’s also subscription options available.
Location: Delivery is available in Manhattan and select zip codes in Brooklyn and Queens.
The bottom line: If your local farmer’s market is closed and the bodega’s produce just isn’t cutting it.
Earlier versions of this article contained reporting and writing by Nikki Mascali.
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