Online grocer Peapod was overwhelmed Thursday evening and Friday morning by a surge in demand from customers seeking to buy groceries online, Giant Food spokesman Daniel Wolk told Grocery Dive. The company's website and mobile app have been intermittently unable to service customers since Thursday evening, Peapod said on Twitter. Friday morning, Peapod tweeted that orders customers had placed or that were already out for delivery were not being affected by the technical problems.
Peapod has recently seen a sharp increase in demand due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to WBUR, a Boston radio station. Peapod orders through Stop & Shop increased 33% during the first week of March compared with the same week in 2019, a spokeswoman for the chain told WBUR.
FreshDirect, the Northeast e-grocer and Peapod competitor, advised customers on Friday that delivery time slots were “filling up faster than usual.” Meanwhile, earlier in March, Amazon Fresh and Prime now, the online retailer’s two grocery e-commerce platforms, warned customers that deliveries might be delayed.
Peapod’s struggle to satisfy demand comes as online grocers have been grappling with a spike in demand from shoppers looking to avoid visiting supermarkets even as they scramble to stock up on essentials. The surge in interest has caught the companies off guard, leading to a string of technical and logistical problems and frustrating already stressed consumers.
Peapod, which is owned by Ahold Delhaize and provides grocery delivery services for the Dutch company’s Giant Food, Giant Company and Stop & Shop chains as well as under its own name, acknowledged that it was having problems with its website and app Thursday evening on Twitter. The company said Friday morning that the problems were continuing, but that orders that had already been placed or were out for delivery would not be affected.
People attempting to visit the Peapod website were presented with a message that said the site was “down due to maintenance.” The outage sparked complaints on Twitter from irate customers, some of whom said they were also having trouble reaching Peapod by phone.
In New York City, where large venues have started closing down and workers are being advised to work from home, FreshDirect delivery slots have filled up. Some customers reported on social media that the grocer has no availability over the next week. On its site, FreshDirect acknowledged the high demand and told customers to "plan ahead." It also said it's barring workers from entering shoppers' homes and will not collect delivery bags in order to minimize the risk of virus transmission.
Last week, Amazon Fresh and Prime now, the online retailer’s two grocery e-commerce platforms, advised customers that deliveries could be delayed. On social media, customers of both services reported site outages this week as well as filled-up delivery slots
Online grocer Boxed, which carries many of the bulk-sized toilet paper, paper towels and other goods shoppers are stocking up on, said on its website that it's experiencing delivery delays of at least four days due to supply shortages. Bay Area e-grocer Farmstead said last week it was seeing a more than 30% increase in delivery orders, while Instacart noted its nationwide sales growth was up 10 times the normal rate during a three-day period last week.