Can You Get Groceries Delivered If You Don't Live in a City?

Though the big delivery chains mostly cover the eastern U.S., more local grocery stores are offering similar services.
Published
Grocery Delivery

Having groceries delivered right to your front door can be a big convenience. These days, plenty of grocery delivery services are happy to bring you milk, produce, and more if you order online or via a mobile app.

On top of saving time, grocery delivery can save you money. When you shop online, you don't wander up and down aisles, potentially spending more on impulse buys. Online shopping helps you keep to your shopping list, meaning you can stick to your budget and your meal plan.

While grocery delivery may sound appealing, you may be wondering if it's available in your area if you don't live in a city. To help you figure out your options, we go over the major delivery services and alternatives, the costs you may run into, and what's next for this industry.

What Does Grocery Delivery Cost?

As with any shopping expedition, you need to start by doing cost comparisons. All services have some kind of fee, either between $5 and $10 per delivery or an annual fee that covers all your deliveries for the year. Either way, you may find the expenses worthwhile if you can skip an hour or two at the grocery store every week. You should also expect a minimum order for delivery to run from $30 to $60.

While grocery prices may be competitive with your local store, there are additional costs to consider — such as delivery fees and tips for your personal shopper.

Then there are the groceries themselves. While prices may be competitive with your local grocery store, delivery services can have higher product prices, and may not have the kind of sales your neighborhood store does. You could also be asked to tip your personal shopper (for services that use them), which adds to your costs.

So check your delivery service against your last few in-store shopping receipts to see if you're getting a value when you add in all the delivery fees. (And remember: You may still have to do the occasional grocery store run if you forget or run out of something.)

SEE ALSO: 9 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget in 2018

Are the costs worth it? The answer will depend on your shopping list and what delivery services are available in your area. Let's run through the major services, so you can find out who delivers in your area and exactly what delivery will cost you.

4 Major Grocery Delivery Services

Instacart

Delivery cost: $7.99 for one-hour delivery or $5.99 for deliveries two or more hours out. You may pay more expensive "busy pricing" (much like Uber's surge pricing) when the service is in demand. You can also subscribe to Instacart Express for $149 a year, where you get unlimited deliveries with a $35 minimum order.

Minimum order: $10 for standard Instacart deliveries or $35 for Instacart Express deliveries.

Delivery time: As soon as one hour.

Delivers to: Most of the eastern United States plus California, with scattered coverage elsewhere. See its delivery map for details.

How it works: A personal shopper goes to your local grocery store — Instacart is partnered with stores nationwide — and hand-picks the items on your list. If something isn't in stock, your shopper will pick a replacement and contact you to verify it.

Shipt

Delivery cost: $99 a year or $14 a month for unlimited deliveries with a $35 minimum order. Orders under $35 cost $7 each.

Minimum order: None, but there's an extra fee for orders under $35.

Delivery time: As soon as one hour.

Delivers to: Mainly the South and Midwest. See its delivery map for details.

How it works: Just like Instacart, Shipt sends a personal shopper out to your local store to pick up and deliver your groceries. The difference is in how you pay — Shipt only offers annual or monthly subscriptions — and the areas the services cover. If you live in an area served by both, it's worth comparing prices.

Peapod

Delivery cost: From $6.95 to $9.95 per delivery, with lower shipping costs when you spend more.

Minimum order: $60.

Delivery time: As soon as the next day.

Delivers to: Much of the Northeast and parts of the Midwest.

How it works: Instead of having personal shoppers, Peapod ships from its own warehouse of groceries. Coupon clippers will be big fans of Peapod, which accepts coupons and even doubles manufacturer coupons that are 99 cents or less. The interface is also a bit easier to wrangle than some. Instead of browsing and picking the exact items you want, you can list "milk, bread, bananas" in Peapod's Express Shop tool, and it'll pull up matching items to choose from.

Jet.com

Delivery cost: Free for orders over $35, or $5.99 for orders under $35. Orders with perishables have an additional $4.95 packaging fee.

Minimum order: None, but there's an extra fee for orders under $35.

Delivery time: As soon as the next day for perishables, and as soon as two days for nonperishables.

Delivers to: Fresh groceries are available in select areas in the Northeast. Nonperishables are available anywhere in the continental U.S.

How it works: Jet.com has been an economical place to buy nonperishable groceries (and a lot of other things) for awhile, but has expanded to ship perishables in certain areas. Delivery is cheaper than most other services, with just a $5 packaging fee, and Jet.com will reduce prices on many (but not all) items, depending on how much you buy.

If fresh grocery delivery is available in your area, Jet.com can be a good way to save — and if it isn't, the nonperishable prices are good, too. Since it was acquired by Walmart in 2016, we expect its delivery area to keep growing.

What If None of These Services Deliver to You?

The biggest flaw of grocery delivery services is they all serve limited areas, with a focus on large urban areas. So what should you do if you're interested in grocery delivery and none of the above services deliver to your area?

Check with your local grocery store, since chains like Safeway and Vons provide their own grocery delivery services.

Start by checking with your local grocery store, since more grocery chains are offering delivery services. Chains like Safeway and Vons provide their own grocery delivery services, and mega-retailers Amazon and Walmart offer delivery in certain regions. Some services also focus on specific areas, like Garden Grocer in Orlando and FreshDirect in New York City (and select other parts of the Northeast). In short, even if one of the national retailers doesn't serve your area, you may have local options.

If delivery isn't available, you may find your store offers pickup, letting you order online and swing by the store to pick up your packed grocery bags. This can have many of the benefits of grocery delivery — the only snag being you still have to leave the house.

What's Next for Grocery Delivery?

If no grocery delivery options are in your area, all you may have to do is wait — because with Amazon and Walmart getting into the game, the number of grocery delivery choices is about to grow.

The rather pricey AmazonFresh ($14.99 a month for Prime members) currently delivers groceries along the West Coast, as well as in a few major urban areas in the Northeast, including Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. However, the company's recent acquisition of Whole Foods has significantly expanded its grocery footprint, and we expect Amazon to start shipping fresh groceries in more areas soon.

SEE ALSO: 2018 Could Be HUGE for Amazon... Here's Why

Walmart is also getting into grocery delivery. Considering the company has over 5,000 stores nationwide, that could give shoppers (especially shoppers outside major metro areas) more options. While the program is currently pretty small — with tests covering Dallas, Orlando, and a few other cities — it has been growing slowly. And though it doesn't have the convenience of delivery, over 900 Walmart stores offer pickup, where you order online and swing by your local Walmart to grab your groceries.

With huge retailers starting to jump into grocery delivery, we can expect more competition — which should mean better prices and better delivery coverage — through 2018 and beyond.

Readers, how have your experiences been with grocery delivery services? For those who don't live in a city, what are your grocery delivery options like? Let us know in the comments below!


Contributing Writer

Originally working in IT, Elizabeth now writes on tech, gaming, and general consumer issues. Her articles have appeared in USA Today, Time, AOL, PriceGrabber, and more. She has been one of DealNews' most regular contributors since 2013, researching everything from vacuums to renters insurance to help consumers.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
You might also like
Leave a comment!

or Register
3 comments
Aboyne
Instacart is a rip-off. They charge you for delivery, charge you for the shopping service, then they up charge the items you buy. With all this it cost me an extra $30 for groceries and that is with a free shipping coupon I had. So would have been closer to $40. Was really angry because they are not upfront with the extra costs either. You have to look in the faq to find out about it.
COMPUTIAC
Correction to my post, should read Southwest, Ct.
COMPUTIAC
I use the local ShopRite in southeast Ct.
They charge $14.95 for them to shop your order and deliver it.

As a senior who can't drive this is fantastic.