Amazon puts new grocery delivery customers on waitlist amid high demand during COVID-19 pandemic

As the demand for grocery delivery services has soared in recent weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon said the company is placing new customers on a waitlist and adjusting store hours at select Whole Foods Markets to help meet demand.

“We are temporarily asking new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery and pickup customers to sign up for an invitation to use online grocery delivery and pickup,” the Seattle-based company said Sunday in a blog post.

“We’re increasing capacity each week and will invite new customers to shop every week.”

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The e-commerce giant, which purchased Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in 2017, said store hours for some Whole Foods locations have been shifted to focus on fulfilling online grocery orders and to allow more time to stock shelves.

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The moves come as more people remain under stay-at-home orders across the country and purchase goods online. Amazon previously began delaying the delivery of some items deemed "non-essential" to help cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon said the number of Whole Foods Market locations offering grocery pickup has grown from roughly 80 stores to more than 150, and it will continue to “quickly expand grocery pickup in the coming weeks.” Additionally, the company opened its Woodland Hills, California location as a temporary online-only store, focused on fulfilling grocery orders for delivery.

Amazon said it has increased order capacity by more than 60 percent due to COVID-19. Since March 16, the company has hired more than 100,000 people, including workers dedicated to grocery delivery.

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This story was reported from Cincinnati.