Whole Foods Will No Longer Offer Free Delivery To All Prime Members

If you're one of the many people who have been surviving off your weekly Prime delivery of 365 brand chickenless nuggets this past year, you may want to listen up. Amazon just announced that, starting on August 30, Prime members who live in certain U.S. cities will need to shell out a $9.95 service fee if they want to have their Whole Foods groceries delivered directly to their front door.

This move may come as a somewhat of a shock to shoppers, especially since grocery delivery services remain in greater demand than ever due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, The New York Times reported that, during spring 2020, the e-commerce giant saw 50 times more grocery orders than it did back in 2019. Currently, Amazon Prime alone boasts 200 million members across the globe (via Yahoo!), with more than 50 million having joined within the last year. That kind of surge necessitates a rise in operating costs to ensure they have enough warehouse workers, drivers, and people packaging orders to meet their guaranteed two-hour delivery promise.

According to Food and Wine, Amazon claims the new fee is designed to cover a new grocery program they are experimenting with, and will only impact subscribers in Detroit, Boston, Portland, Maine, Manchester, New Hampshire, Providence, and Chicago. So, if you are outside of those areas, you can still count on getting your Whole Foods delivery at no extra charge for now. But for shoppers living in those six regions, it may be time to stock up on all your faves over the next few weeks to avoid the extra charges.

Amazon's new fees are designed to keep costs low, but some shoppers aren't buying it

Though there has not yet been any reports on whether or not this announcement has impacted Amazon Prime's membership numbers, it's possible the retailer will experience some backlash from consumers. After all, it's not as if there is any shortage of businesses willing to deliver groceries directly to consumers. Walmart, which is arguably Amazon's biggest competitor, now offers its own set of delivery perks through its partnership with Insta cart. Meanwhile, UberEats offers customers free delivery on grocery orders over $30 when used with an Eats Pass. But it does not seem like Amazon is too worried about losing business. 

Per Food and Wine, the e-commerce giant claims the new fees will allow them to keep the item prices low, which in turn will attract customers who want the best of both worlds when it comes to bargains and convenience. At the same time, given that Whole Foods has a reputation as a pricier, upscale grocery store, it's possible many will no longer feel incentivized to order said products without the free delivery. On Twitter, one user called the new $9.95 service charge "insane" and noted that it "negates any Prime savings" one would receive by ordering groceries with their service.

Nevertheless, Whole Foods shoppers can rest assured several Prime membership perks are here to stay. Going forward, members will still be able to enjoy exclusive discounts at Whole Foods locations, such as an additional 10% off yellow ticketed items, as well as 5% percent back when they use their Amazon credit card.