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  • Some shoppers say they can’t order groceries online, as pickup and delivery services face a surge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Amazon told Business Insider that it’s responding by hiring more workers and adding more delivery windows throughout the day.
  • Walmart said it’s also adding more delivery windows and shortening its advance ordering window from one week to two days in an effort to more accurately reflect in-stock levels to customers.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Online grocery orders are surging in the US as shoppers increasingly avoid visiting stores, and retailers are racing to keep up with demand.

With the surge in orders, some shoppers are complaining on social media about little or no availability for grocery pickup or delivery. Some say they have given up on trying. Others are refreshing grocers’ websites late at night to try to snag time slots for pickup or delivery as soon as they become available.

In response, leading retailers including Amazon and Walmart are ramping up their online grocery businesses by hiring more workers and adding time slots for delivery and pickup, the companies told Business Insider.

“We are working hard to identify ways to deliver to more customers, like adding more delivery windows throughout the day and hiring over 100,000 positions across the US, enabling us to increase delivery window availability,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “We’ve also accelerated expansion of delivery and pickup from Whole Foods Market, and we’ll continue to expand quickly to reach more customers.”

Amazon said it expanded delivery from Whole Foods last week to new cities, including Toledo, Ohio, West Des Moines, Iowa, and Wichita, Kansas. The company also added more grocery pickup capacity last week in areas including Boston; Dallas/Ft. Worth; San Francisco, Stamford, Connecticut; New Jersey’s Gateway region; Springfield, Virginia; Chicago; and Minneapolis.

Walmart expands pickup and delivery hours as the business gets ‘slammed’

At Walmart, the grocery pickup business is “getting slammed,” the company’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, Dan Bartlett, said last month.

The company on Friday extended its grocery pickup and delivery hours to help meet demand after temporarily cutting them back during a sudden sales surge in early-to-mid March.

“As we expand those hours back out, there will be more availability for customers now,” a Walmart spokesperson said.

Beginning last Friday, pickup and delivery hours returned to a schedule of 8. a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the rest of the week. Previously, hours had been cut back to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Walmart also shortened its advance ordering window from one week to two days in an effort to more accurately reflect in-stock levels to customers, since certain items like toilet paper are selling out quickly.

The company’s plans to hire 150,000 more workers – mostly cashiers and stockers – should also help alleviate some pressure on stores.

Kroger closed a store to shoppers, and it will now serve only online orders

Kroger is also making changes to meet demand for online grocery.

The company tweeted Wednesday that it has expanded its open pickup appointment from three days to seven days to allow more customers to snag pickup time slots.

Kroger has also converted a store in Ohio to an online-only location that will serve only pickup orders. The company hasn’t said whether it plans to expand the test to additional stores.

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