Giant, others look to make shopping more convenient -- Gazette.Net


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Giant Food and home-delivery affiliate Peapod are stepping up their services, as more grocers and online retailers offer customers the convenience of having groceries delivered.

Starting Wednesday, customers who order groceries online from Peapod can pick them up at Giant’s first stand-alone site in Maryland, at 8500 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase.

Customers have been able to have groceries delivered to their homes for a fee in Montgomery County since 2003, said Peg Merzbacher, a Peapod spokeswoman. There is a minimum order of $60 for home delivery, but there is no minimum or fee if customers pick up their groceries.

The first pickup locations at Giant grocery stores in Montgomery opened in June. There are six — two each in Rockville and Germantown, along with ones in Derwood and Chevy Chase.

The seventh site in Chevy Chase also will have a Giant gasoline station that likely will open later this week, Giant Food spokesman Jamie Miller said.

“It’s been well-received,” Miller said of the delivery service. “Customers like having this convenience.”

Landover-based Giant Food and Skokie, Ill.-based Peapod are both subsidiaries of Dutch retail giant Royal Ahold.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, which also has numerous stores in Montgomery County, has offered home delivery in the Washington region since 2005, said Craig Muckle, a company spokesman. Currently, Safeway only offers delivery with no in-store pickup for online purchases.

“There is a pretty strong core of people who use it,” Muckle said. “Some people have challenges going to the store, so it fits their needs.”

The minimum order for Safeway’s service is $49. The fee for purchases of less than $150 is $12.95, though first orders for new customers are free, according to the website.

The delivery fee for home service with Peapod is from $7.95 to $9.95; the lower fee is for orders more than $100.

Walmart began testing a delivery service for items that include toys and electronics last year in certain markets, such as Northern Virginia. The service is not yet available in Montgomery County, according to its website.

Services such as Netgrocer.com also deliver groceries to customers for a fee. Amazon.com has delivered groceries in the Seattle area for several years and is expanding to other markets.

Online grocery shopping is one of several trends that is changing the face of supermarkets, which also face competition from club stores, dollar stores and farmers markets, according to a new report by Rockville market research firm Packaged Facts. About half of shoppers use online or in-store coupons and two-thirds buy groceries on sale, according to the firm.

“Economic, demographic, lifestyle and technological changes have created not only a fertile environment,” David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, said in a statement, “but the absolute necessity for new concepts to engage shoppers ... and reinvent food and beverage retailing.”

Giant’s stand-alone site is formatted like a fast-food drive-through, in which customers remain in their vehicles as workers load their groceries. Giant has 10 other gas stations in Maryland, Miller said.

Peapod already has tested stand-alone sites in Illinois and New York. The company also has partnerships with Stop & Shop and Giant-Carlisle.

Peapod does not now have pickup delivery sites at Frederick County Giant stores, but the companies are “continually reviewing where to put locations,” Miller said. “We do internal research to determine where there will be significant demand.”

kshay@gazette.net