2020 in Review: The Year for Grocery Delivery Services

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans began relying on grocery delivery services to get their food and essentials rather than going to stores to shop in-person. This has led to massive growth in demand for services like Instacart and Shipt.

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And although people have started shopping in-person again at the same levels as they were pre-pandemic in some places, the popularity of grocery e-commerce is likely to change the way we grocery shop for good. As the year comes to a close, take a look back at what 2020 meant for grocery delivery services.

Last updated: Dec. 7, 2020
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March: Downloads of Grocery Delivery Apps Surge

From Feb. 15 to March 15, daily downloads of Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt saw surges of 218%, 160% and 124%, respectively, according to app store intelligence firm Apptopia.

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March: Instacart Introduces Contactless Delivery

Although contactless delivery has become the norm now, it wasn’t a service that typically existed pre-pandemic. In March, Instacart rolled out its “Leave at My Door Delivery” option, which gave customers the option to have an order left by their door instead of having an in-person hand-off, CNN reported. Instacart added the feature shortly after Postmates began offering a similar contactless delivery option.

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March: Nearly One-Third of US Households Report Using Online Grocery Delivery or Pickup Services

Thirty-one percent of U.S. households — about 39.5 million consumers — reported using an online grocery delivery or pickup service during the month of March, according to the consulting firm Brick Meets Click. That represented a 146% increase from August 2019. In addition, grocery delivery and pickup sales reached $4 billion in March, up from $1.2 billion in August 2019.

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April: Instacart Hires 300,000 Workers

While many companies were implementing furloughs and layoffs, Instacart was hiring on a massive scale. By the end of April, it had hired 300,000 new employees to meet increased demand and announced in a company blog that it would be hiring an additional 250,000 workers in the coming months.

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April: Online Grocery Delivery and Pickup Sales Reach $5.3 Billion

Grocery delivery sales increased again from March to April, with sales from online grocery delivery and pickup reaching $5.3 billion by the end of the month, according to Brick Meets Click.

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August: Instacart Announces Partnership With Walmart

In an effort to strengthen its competition against Amazon and Whole Foods, Instacart announced a new partnership with Walmart in August.

“Today, we welcomed Walmart to the Instacart marketplace for the first time in the U.S.,” an Instacart spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC on Aug. 11. “The new partnership brings thousands of items — from groceries, alcohol and pantry staples to home decor and improvement, personal care, electronics and more — at everyday low prices from Walmart stores to customers’ doors in as fast as an hour.”

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August: DoorDash Launches Grocery Delivery Service

On Aug. 20, DoorDash announced that it was introducing its own grocery delivery service through partnerships with Smart & Final, Meijer, Fresh Thyme, Hy-Vee and Gristedes/D’agostino.

“We know that grocery shopping can feel like a chore, which is why grocery stores on DoorDash will be available on an on-demand basis — that means no scheduling required, no queues, no waiting,” the company stated in a blog post. “More than 10,000 grocery items, from dairy and eggs to local produce to fresh meat and fish, will be available for delivery from participating grocery stores in less than one hour.”

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October: Instacart’s Valuation Reaches $17.7 Billion

In early October, Instacart raised $200 million in a new funding round led by investors Valiant Capital and D1 Capital Partners, CNBC reported. The new funding brought the company’s valuation to $17.7 billion, more than doubling its valuation from the beginning of 2020.

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