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Hy-Vee expects demand for grocery pickup will extend past pandemic
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HY-VEE

Hy-Vee expects demand for grocery pickup will extend past pandemic

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Hy-Vee Aisles Online employees move orders from a parking lot storage unit to load into vehicles outside the store at 51st and O streets. Since the pandemic hit, demand for grocery store pickup and delivery services has quadrupled.

On a busy Sunday earlier this month, fresh snow on the ground, shoppers lined up outside the Hy-Vee at 51st and O to pick up their groceries without ever getting out of their cars. 

Others stayed home altogether waiting for their groceries to show up at their doors.

While people have been able to use the Hy-Vee Aisles Online grocery store pickup and delivery services for five years now, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for it has quadrupled through the chain's eight-state region, including in Lincoln, according to Christina Gayman, director of public relations.

She said while stores have started to see an increase in customers shopping in person again compared to nearly a year ago, they also continue to see more customers shopping online and through their Aisles Online app.

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A vehicle waits for groceries to be loaded at the Hy-Vee Aisles Online pickup site on 51st and O streets.

"We really do think that the convenience and time savings of the service will equate to a long-term change for many customers," she said. 

Gayman said she didn't have Lincoln numbers, but said companywide, Hy-Vee stores have hired more than 10,000 Aisles Online workers since the start of the pandemic last year. 

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Here's how it works. When someone places an order via the Aisles Online website or app, the order is sent to the store the customer designates. Aisles Online team member are Hy-Vee employees, and customers get updates on each step in the process.

While the order is filled, an Aisles Online shopper lets the customer know if an item isn't available. Customers can accept substitutions or add items.

Then, the order is bagged and put in totes and staged either at the store’s pickup area or delivered to the customer.

There's a $9.95 fee for delivery or two-hour express pickup.

Those costs, however, can be rolled into an annual membership. Gayman said they've had an overwhelmingly positive response to the Hy-Vee Plus program since it launched a couple of months ago. 

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Alec Manzano (right) loads an order of groceries into a car outside the Hy-Vee at 51st and O streets.

With a $99 annual cost, customers get free standard delivery and two-hour express pickup, a potential big savings for customers shopping for groceries primarily online, she said. Members also get special exclusive offers and perks.

Gayman said over the past year stores have also added to their pharmacy drive-up services and prescription delivery. Now customers can do curbside pickup or, in some locations, have their prescriptions shipped to their home. They also offer "express pay," which allows customers to pay for their prescriptions in advance so they can quickly pick them up in the store or at the pharmacy drive-up.

"At Hy-Vee we believe that innovation is critical to sustaining success and growth," she said. "We innovate to elevate the customer experience whether a customer shops online or visits a Hy-Vee store." 

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Zac Voss loads groceries into the trunk of a vehicle outside the Hy-Vee at 51st and O streets.

IMAGES OF LINCOLN DURING THE PANDEMIC

Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger

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Public safety reporter

Lori Pilger is a Norfolk native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been a public safety reporter for the Journal Star since 2005.

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