Long wait times for grocery pickup frustrating Saskatchewan residents amid COVID-19

Saskatchewan residents share their frustrations over the challenges of ordering their groceries online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saskatchewan residents share their frustrations over the challenges of ordering their groceries online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chris Wattie / Reuters

At a time when people are being told to stay inside due to COVID-19, many in Saskatchewan are turning to online shopping to order essential services such as groceries.

However, many large grocery chains are having trouble keeping up with demand.

Regina resident Amanda Evans says she’s had to wait an upwards of a week before receiving orders, saying that on one occasion she had her order cancelled altogether.

“I have a child who is high risk, so I have been instructed to not take him into the grocery store. I’m a single mom, and for my son’s safety, I should not enter the store…I also have asthma,” Evans said.

“It is quite stressful, knowing I may not be able to get the things we need, and that we have to wait a week, or plan that far in advance.”

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Evans said she understands the actions people are taking during the pandemic, but still worries about feeding her family.

“I think it’s great that people are taking advantage of this service to keep safe, but it is quite a long wait for essential items,” Evans said.

Global News reached out to Loblaw Companies Ltd. about the “week-long” wait times at Saskatchewan Real Canadian Superstores in regards to their online pick-up services.

“Our PC Express business has more than doubled in recent weeks as the numbers of Canadians shopping from home continues to spike. This is driven in part by the encouragement to social distance, but also because we’ve dropped fees and prices to make sure those who need the service don’t face cost barriers,” Loblaw Companies Limited replied via email.

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“As demand grows, we’re finding new ways to serve more people, faster. That means more equipment, more capacity in pick-up windows, and more staff.”

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Save-On-Foods is facing similar challenges, and is asking people to stop worrying about supply and put an end to hoarding food.

“There is enough food for everyone and it is our job to make sure, that together, we can feed as many Western Canadians as possible. Panic buying is happening everywhere, and we are doing our best to manage it,” Save-On-Foods replied to Global News in an email.

“We have implemented measures to mitigate this behavior, including reinforcing limits on high-demand items. Overbuying puts a strain on our ability to get our shelves re-stocked as quickly as we would like.”

Experiencing “extremely” high web traffic and demand for online shopping, so Save-On-Foods encourages customers who can to shop in-store.

“Leave our online delivery options available for those who are not able to get to the store — including seniors, people with disabilities and of course, those who are ill.”

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Evans is not the only the only person concerned over grocery store wait times. Global News spoke to a number of people who shared similar frustrations.

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Marshall Pelletier and his family were required to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from Mexico.

He said he used Superstore’s delivery service.

“It came the next day but with about half of what we ordered being substituted and overcharged on most items when we compared the receipt from the store to what we were charged. We put in a support ticket but it has been about nine days with no reply,” Pelletier told Global News.

“We tried Save-On-Foods for delivery but the delivery dates are pushed well into April. It is a bit frustrating because we have a young child and need some basic necessities.”

Evans said Walmart cancelled one of her orders.

“They called me the night before and cancelled it. I panicked, because I really needed some of the stuff on my order. I’m not one of the panic buyers, I was just trying to get items we needed to get by,” Evans said.

Global News reached out to Wal-Mart Canada, but did not receive a reply.

Both Save-On-Foods and Loblaw Companies Limited were unable to provide specific numbers when it comes to the amount of people using their online services right now in comparison to before COVID-19.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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