Ottawa

Long wait times for grocery delivery and pickups in Ottawa

Grocery stores and online delivery services are dealing with a surge in demand as online shopping increases with so many people staying at home and practising physical distancing, leading to long wait times for delivery and pickups.

PC Express delivery service business more than doubled in recent weeks, company says

Many Canadians are skipping the grocery aisles and opting for home delivery and pickup options during the COVID-19 pandemic. The increased demand is leading to longer-than-normal wait times. (Robert Short/CBC)

Grocery stores and online delivery services are dealing with a surge in demand as online shopping increases with so many people staying at home and practising physical distancing, leading to long wait times for delivery and pickups.

PC Express, the e-commerce service owned by Loblaw Companies, has seen its business more than double over the past few weeks, the company said in an email.

"Two weeks ago, we'd have an order ready in an hour. Now, it can take four days or more," Loblaw Companies CEO Galen Weston said in a statement posted on the company's website on Friday. 

Ken Rockburn, a former host of CBC Radio's All In A Day, is one customer who has experienced the backlog firsthand.

Rockburn said he placed an order through PC Express for pickup at the Real Canadian Superstore on Richmond Road last week. 

While the service's website typically allows users to choose a time to pick their groceries up, Rockburn said he never received a confirmation email with his receipt.

When he checked the website, it said his order wouldn't be available until April 8, almost two weeks away at the time. 

"Had I realized they were so backed up, I probably wouldn't have done that," he said. "I'm sure there's people out there in much more dire need than I am."

Customers hoping to place an online order with IGA on Monday were placed into a virtual queue, an attempt to triage what the company said was "an extremely high volume of users." 

The estimated wait time to begin shopping was more than an hour.

Grocery delivery services in demand

Eli Ilatov, owner of Ottawa-based grocery delivery service Fill My Fridge, said demand for home deliveries has taken off since public health officials began telling people to stay home.

Ilatov said a 10-fold increase in orders from individuals has helped keep his business going after it lost all its business clients.

"Originally, it was scary because our main business dropped to zero," said Ilatov. "But two days after we started getting so many residential requests."

Ilatov said he's had to hire five new employees to keep up with the demand.

Fill My Fridge now has a daily cap on the number of orders it can handle, Ilatov said. Customers who do make an order can expect to wait between one and three days for their groceries to arrive.

California-based Instacart, which delivers groceries in cities throughout most of Canada, has also seen its order volume and customer base grow over the past several weeks, the company said in an email.

Over 250,000 new people signed up to become Instacart shoppers, and 50,000 have already started shopping on the platform, the company said.

The company did not say how long the average wait time is, but said delivery times vary across stores and the availability of shoppers.

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