Since March 2020, we've incorporated so many new terms in our vocabulary: quarantine, N95 face masks, social distancing, and of course, curbside pickup. Although curbside pickup had been around long before that time, there's no denying the massive growth it's experienced since the beginning of the pandemic. Those who offered it doubled down on expansion, and those who didn't scrambled to get it together. Now that we all know just how easy and efficient it is, will we ever go back to actually choosing to shop in-store again? It's not looking likely, which is why we dug deep into curbside programs across the country to find the best stores with curbside pickup to purchase your essentials.
As if we all didn't have enough reasons to love Target, now we have more. When you place your order, you're able to select substitutions in case something is sold out. Additionally, no matter the size of your order, pickup is free. They aim to have your order ready within two hours, and once you leave to pick it up, you can minimize your wait time by checking in on their very user-friendly app. If you planned on going inside for your order but would now prefer to do curbside, you can also use the app to switch preferences. Once Target knows you're on your way, they're able to track your arrival and have your order ready as soon as you pull in. If you don't have time to pick it up the same day it's ready, don't worry—Target will hold your order for three days before canceling it.
Walmart's program shares a lot of similarities with Target, which is unsurprising considering they're two of the largest retailers in America. Although you can't select specific substitutions like with Target, you can choose any products you don't want substitutions offered. When it's time to check out, you'll select a pickup time slot. As the associate is shopping for you, if something in your order is sold out, an email will be sent offering another option for you to confirm or decline. Just like Target, pickup is free no matter what, and you can check in on their easy-to-use app before you start driving so that they have your order ready when you arrive. Finally, if you miss your pickup time slot, your order will be held for seven days before it's canceled.
What distinguishes ShopRite's program from others is its emphasis on making products accessible and affordable for everyone. Many other companies allow coupons, but ShopRite makes them as easy as possible to find by having a section on their website and app specifically dedicated to digital coupons. You're also allowed to use your EBT/SNAP benefits to pay, and because you aren't charged until you accept the order, you can also bring paper coupons to create even more savings. More to know: ShopRite charges a $5.99 service fee, and you can reserve your pickup time at checkout. You still may be able to modify your order after that but the time to do so is limited, so a countdown timer will pop up. As of right now, substitutions are only allowed for essential items, and all sales are final unless a product is damaged or defective. Finally, it's OK to miss your pickup time, but know that your order is only available for six days or until it's no longer fresh (usually as early as two days), whichever comes first.
With the reputation Midwesterners have for being kind, Hy-Vee's great customer service isn't a surprise. Pickup is free with a minimum $24.95 purchase, but if you want to get it faster, you can pick your order up in as little as two hours for $9.95 (a small price to pay if you're in a rush). Hy-Vee offers three solutions for if a product is sold out: Online, you can select "best match" if you want Hy-Vee to choose a replacement for you, "let me choose" if you want to decide what suitable substitutions would be, and "no substitution" if you don't want any replacements for your originally requested product. Even better, if you do end up with a substitution, you'll pay the lower price of the two. If you have a special request or can't find a certain product online, you can add a note to your shopper at checkout. Although you're not able to change your order in the system once you've submitted it, if you've opted in for texts, you also have the option of texting them additional requests and products. Other workarounds for changing your order are placing a second order with the same pickup time (you won't be charged a second fee) and contacting your store to request something be removed from your order. More to know: SNAP/EBT benefits are accepted at select stores, and pickup time slots can be reserved up to two hours before you check out.
East and South: Food Lion
Food Lion takes a personal approach to curbside pickup that's well worth the $1.99 fee for your $35 minimum order. Before you check out, you can submit any special requests you have as well as your planned pickup time. If you realize you forgot anything after ordering, you can add products until a least four hours prior to your scheduled pickup. Once your associate starts shopping, they'll text you a heads up and offer substitutions as necessary. If you miss your pickup time, they'll hold your order for you until the end of the day—and if that doesn't work out, they'll call you to formally reschedule.
The perks of doing curbside pickup with Safeway begin before you even start your order, with $20 off your first online order using their exclusive Drive Up & Go promo code. You also don't have to begin shopping in order to reserve your pickup day or time, as long as it's up to 90 minutes before you check out. There's a $30 minimum to your order, and it must be picked up by 8 p.m. on the same day it's ready, but a lot of flexibility in that you can choose whether to accept substitutions and also leave notes for special requests. Plus, changes can be made to the order on the day you placed it.