As Amazon buckles under the increased demand presented by social distancing guidelines and shelter-at-home orders, the company now says that new customers to its Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market grocery delivery services are being waitlisted.
An Amazon spokesperson told Gizmodo by email that the waitlist is a result of both “restricted capacity due to social distancing as well as unprecedented demand.” The news was announced in a blog post from Amazon’s VP of grocery Stephenie Landry, who said that the company has also expanded grocery delivery to 150 stores from approximately 80. To meet the steep demand for grocery delivery, Amazon is also adjusting hours for some Whole Foods stores in order for them to focus on online grocery orders.
Currently, new delivery customers for Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods will see a notice on the respective home pages for each service indicating that “availability is currently limited” with a link to the waitlist sign up. Amazon also states that it encourages “those who are able” to shop in-store, adding that customers who are 60 years and older can shop at a Whole Foods beginning one hour prior to the store opening to the general public.
Amazon said that new customers who are currently waitlisted will be added each week, though a spokesperson declined to comment about what the wait time currently looks like. Additionally, Landry said that in the coming weeks, Amazon will be rolling out a new feature for delivery customers to reserve specific times to shop.
Amazon stressed that the measure to waitlist new grocery delivery customers was as much about “the social distancing measures we’ve taken to keep associates safe” as it was about meeting demand.
Following pressure from both its own workers as well lawmakers for Amazon to better protect its employees on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon has—notably, far later than it should have—taken some additional measures to protect workers, including by providing them with PPE and temperature checks as well as by letting warehouse workers clock in with their phones and providing plexiglass shields for in-store employees at its Whole Foods locations.