Instacart Shoppers Reveal What It's Really Like To Work During The Pandemic

Restaurant delivery services like Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash are doing big business during the coronavirus crisis, and the same can be said for grocery pickup and delivery services. In April and May, the grocery delivery service Instacart (which provides grocery delivery from a number of stores rather than a single source such as Amazon Fresh, for example) has more than doubled its workforce hiring a whopping 300,000 new shoppers (via ABC 7). 

But even this recent hiring spree has not kept up with demand for the company's services, and Instacart is expected to hire more shopping staff going forward, with estimates expecting the company to hire around an additional 250,000 workers. According to one shopper, $20 hourly is fairly standard compensation, although he noted that it's possible to make around $50 per hour depending on the location.

Tips from Instacart shoppers

Though grocery industry workers are being sickened by the coronavirus at a startling rate (via The Washington Post), one Instacart shopper notes that he's found entertainment in the work. "It's like a scavenger hunt," he said. "It's as close as I'm ever going to get to being on 'Supermarket Sweep.'" 

Another shopper is fearful that the surge in hiring will result in less work for each shopper given the new competition. While she was pulling from shelves within an hour of applying when she began work, things have begun to quiet down as of late. "Now, I have to sit with my phone open and refresh it for almost 15 to 20 minutes for me to even find one order," she said.

However, the shoppers did note some tips for how to best attract business. Working in the mornings between the hours of 6:00 AM and 10:00 AM and having availability on Sundays and Mondays were two ways that they said they were able to drum up more business, even with droves of workers being added to the platform every day.

How grocery shopping has changed in recent times

The overall environment in grocery stores has changed as well, according to an Instacart shopper in Toronto. "Since the pandemic started, everyone is super hostile in the grocery stores," she said (via Toronto Life). "Everyone is scared of each other."

She reported that when a grocery store employee is asked a question, they answer it from as far away as possible because they have social distancing in mind, which creates something of an odd interaction. While the shopper said that she wears gloves and a ski mask while working to prevent spreading the virus in case she is an asymptomatic carrier, she says that not everyone is as considerate. "The other day I was shopping, and a lady was just coughing into the air," she said. 

Aside from the fact that all shoppers recount taking some sort of safety measures against the virus with the use of personal protective equipment, one thing that many of the Instacart shoppers have in common is that many picked up the job after being either laid off or not being able to find work as a result of the pandemic. Even so, they appear to feel like they're the "old guard" and notice newcomers because they're scanning items with their phones, looking "really confused."