(Reuters) – Instacart said on Thursday it has brought forward the launch of its door-step grocery drop-off service in response to a surge in consumer demand amid rising fears of the coronavirus spreading in the United States.
The service rolled out to all customers on Thursday and gives them the option to have groceries left at their doorstep at a designated time, instead of being hand-delivered. The company has been testing it with some consumers over the last few months.
“Over the last week, we’ve observed increased consumer adoption for a new ‘Leave at My Door Delivery’ feature,” the company said in a statement.
The company said its sales over last week have jumped 10 fold and as high as 20 times in California and Washington, where the virus has been the most widespread in the United States.
Demand for hand sanitizers, canned foods and face masks were among the items most in demand.
Consumers have been stockpiling essentials in some states, spurred by messages from state health departments urging residents to buy supplies of non-perishable foods, prescription medications and sanitary supplies.
The advice has contradicted the message from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) whose director told a U.S. congressional hearing last week that there was no need for healthy Americans to stock up on supplies.
Target Corp said on Tuesday it was seeing a surge in store traffic in the United States due to the outbreak.
Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber