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Coronavirus crisis: Where can you buy groceries online?

DeArbea Walker

Because of stay-at-home orders issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many people are opting to have their groceries delivered.

Grocery delivery services like Instacart, Fresh Direct and Safeway offer everything that you'd find at your local supermarket, including fresh produce.

Below are three online grocery services that can host a virtual grocery store run.

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Instacart

Minimum spend: $35 with $3.99 delivery fee for same-day delivery; $10 minimum order for first available delivery time.

During the past year, Instacart has become competition for stronger name-brand grocery delivery services such as AmazonFresh. And because of their business model, they seem to have become the most reliable. Instacart assigns a shopper to every customer who orders. The shopper goes to the preferred supermarket or grocer on behalf of the customer. Patrons type in their zip code and a list of stores that partner with the Instacart are presented. Instacart dashboard tabs include in-store "sales" and  "coupons."

"In the last week, we’ve seen a more than 100% increase in the number of people using Instacart to place and send orders to others," an Instacart spokesperson said.

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Customers can also order for friends and family -- just make sure to enter their zip code, address and when you check out select "to give the gift of groceries remotely."

Instacart supports a variety of neighborhood markets.

The price is dictated by the store, so sometimes could pay a premium if you are purchasing locally. The $10 minimum order is one of the lowest minimums, but there is a $3.99 fee for same-day orders over $35. Instacart also offers it's Express membership pricing which allows offers unlimited orders for $99 a year or $9.99 a month.

"Over the last three weeks, Instacart has seen the highest customer demand in company history with billions of dollars of groceries being sold on our platform," an Instacart spokesperson said.

Some grocers are still able to deliver within 24 hours, but some of the more popular stores are taking a bit longer to deliver given the growth in demand, according to the company.

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Instacart also announced Monday that they will be hiring 300,000 employees throughout the next 3 months as contractors to help with the surge in demand.

Albertsons Companies

Minimum spend: flat $10 delivery fee for orders over $30 

Albertsons Companies operate a dozen regional grocery chains across the country, including Albertsons, Safeway, Tom Thumb and Randalls.

Customers can visit their regional store website or app and begin shopping online. Enter your zip code on the main site to see if you are eligible for delivery.

Fill up your cart as you would in the store, head for the checkout, type in the address you'd like your groceries delivered to, and the final step select the time you'd like the items delivered to your door.

Each customer that purchases items through its app or website is assigned their individual shopper that will pick up the items directly off the shelf.

Many might have concerns if your delivery time is two days after you have made the online purchase will my food and produce be fresh? The answer is yes.

An Albertsons spokesperson said customers shouldn't worry because delivery orders are boxed loaded onto our delivery trucks the day they are scheduled for delivery. The company's trucks have multiple temperature zones for frozen foods and produce to make sure everything is fresh upon arrival. Delivery orders must be a minimum of $30 and have a $10 fee, although the fee might be reduced on orders of $150 or more. YCustomers can order any time of day and orders will be delivered between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

They have a special right now of $20 off plus free delivery on your first order when you spend more than $75.

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3. FreshDirect

Minimum spend: $30 with a $5.99 delivery fee

Fresh Direct caters to New York and the Delaware Valley. They have a mix of locally-grown foods and national grocery chain offerings from top brands you would see at your neighborhood grocery chain. Familiarity is its big selling point, even if FreshDirect can't compete with AmazonFresh on price and has a delivery fee.

The minimum order of $30 is slightly cheaper than the $35 dollar required by Amazonfresh, but customers will have to pay a $5.99 delivery fee each time. However, the fee is waived if customers purchase a DeliveryPass, which offers unlimited free deliveries, better time slots and exclusive perks. It costs $129 a year or $79 every six months. FreshDirect also offers a value-for-time weekday pass: $39 for six months. Your delivery time would be limited to Monday to Thursday, but that might not be a problem for many people who have been ordered to stay at home.

Tuesday, CEO David McInerney, told MarketWatch that activity is up 60 percent compared to a year ago.

"It started in early March, I think about the 5th, it came out of nowhere," McInerney told MarketWatch. "The demand for online shopping is huge, tremendous, and we are doing the best that we can to fill what we can."

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