Delivery has been a way of life for many of us recently, and groceries are no exception. Demand for online delivery and curbside pickup of food and groceries has surged amid social distancing protocols. The major players include Walmart, Albertson’s, Whole Foods (owned by Amazon), Instacart, Shipt (owned by Target), and FreshDirect. However, during all of this, one major chain has been noticeably quiet.
Aside from a short promotion in 2019, Trader Joe’s has never offered curbside or delivery options. It is not even available through third-party services like Instacart. When ending the trial promotion in 2019, the company said it stopped delivery services to focus on keeping low prices.
In an April 2020 episode of its podcast Inside Trader Joe’s, the company has said they have stayed away from delivery and curbside pickup because they “don’t always translate into positive results.”
Tara Miller, Marketing Director, and Matt Sloan, VP of Marketing at the Trader Joe’s, continued to explain,” that creating the infrastructure for delivery or the online shopping system for curbside pickup is a “massive undertaking,” and one that “takes months or years to plan, build, and implement.”
“It requires tremendous resources,” Sloan went on to explain. “At Trader Joe’s, the reality is that over the last couple of decades, we’ve invested those resources in our people rather than build an infrastructure that eliminates the need for people.”
Throughout the recent pandemic, Trader Joe’s has kept stores up and operating with regular in-store shopping. However, they have implemented numerous precautions to keep employees and consumers safe. According to an announcement on their website, all stores are conducting staff wellness checks before each shift. The checks screen for potential exposure to COVID-19 and symptoms consistent with the virus. They have made other changes, including increased routine cleanings, plexiglass barriers for cashiers, and providing two weeks of additional paid sick time to any crew members who have symptoms of illness.
“The bottom line here is that our people remain our most valued resource,” Miller says. “We know that this period of distancing will end, and when it does, our crew will be in our stores to help you find your next favorite product, just as they’ve always been.”
While their charming shopping experience has assumed a cult-like following over the years, many consumers have opted to stay home recently. According to foot traffic data analyzed by Placer.ai, Trader Joe’s has suffered declines of close to 50% year over year in April.
While it may not be convenient, it does appear that Trader Joe’s has consumer and crew members’ best interests in mind. Their loyal shoppers will no doubt be back to shop and visit their favorite Hawaiian clad crew members as soon as they can. And if you are one of the loyalists, check out our 11 Favorite Things To Buy At Trader Joe’s!