Alhambra Credit Union

Do Grocery Delivery Services Really Save You Money?

The convenience of ordering your groceries online and having them delivered to your door comes at a cost—which might be worth it, or it might end up putting you over budget.

You’ll only be able to decide how you value this popular service if you carefully weigh your options and the pros and cons of shopping with a grocery delivery service.

Pros

  • Saves time you could spend doing other things: working (i.e. making money), enjoying family, recovering if you’re feeling sick, doing chores, running other errands, exercising, etc.
  • Saves on gas or other transportation costs
  • Reduces impulse buys and temptation to overspend
  • Gives you access to online-only coupons
  • Allows you to check your home inventory for ingredients to prevent buying duplicates (which saves you money, or a second trip out if you thought you already had something but didn’t)
  • Promotes meal planning
  • Allows you to see your balance while you shop so you won’t be surprised at check-out
  • Saves you having to repeatedly tell your kids, if you have any, they can’t buy all the candy bars

Cons (Costs)

  • Eliminates the chance to buy needed items not on your list that you’re reminded of at the store
  • Delivery and/or membership fees, fuel charge, tips
  • Upcharge on products (e.g. paying an extra $.30 for a loaf of bread), depending on the company
  • Can’t take advantage of printed coupons, comparison shopping, and/or ad matching
  • Not getting to pick your own fresh produce
  • Someone must be home to sign for the groceries—for alcohol or cigarettes, that person must be 18 years or older; some services offer delivery without a signature, but you’ll need to leave coolers on your porch for food safety
  • You may still need to make trips to the store for perishables or forgotten items, which could negate the pros of the delivery service if you still make impulse buys

Options

If you decide to try a grocery deliver service, shop around to find the best deal for your budget and lifestyle.

Leading delivery companies include:

  • Shipt:
    • Minimum order: $35 for free shipping
    • Fee: $7 for orders below $35
    • Membership: $99/year or $14/month
  • Amazon Food:
    • Minimum order: $35 for free shipping (after a 30-day free trial)
    • Fee: $10 for orders below $35
    • Membership: $15/month (plus the cost of Amazon Prime)
  • Instacart:
    • Minimum order: $10
    • Fee: $4 for non-members
    • Membership: Optional free delivery on all orders over $35 for $99/year or $10/month
  • Walmart Grocery:
    • Minimum order: $30
    • Fee: $10
    • Membership: unlimited free delivery for $98/year
  • And others: Peapod, Boxed, Costco’s delivery service, Giant, Safeway, NetGrocer, FoodEx, and FreshDirect

Another option is curb-side pick-up from your local grocery store. You can still have someone shop for you and save you time for a smaller fee.

What do you think? Is a grocery delivery service worth it for your life and your budget? If you’re still on the fence, give it a try for a few months. Most delivery services have promotional offers that lessen the risk of trying them out for a limited time while you make up your mind.