Everything You Need to Know About Curbside Grocery Pick-Up Right Now

updated Apr 19, 2020
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car filled with groceries
Credit: Mike_shots

While grocery stores will continue to be open, the government is still encouraging us all to stay home as much as possible. This has led to an overload on the grocery delivery and pick-up systems these last few weeks. We’ve talked a lot about grocery delivery and even groceries you can order through the mail, but today, with the weekend coming up and many of you looking to restock, we thought we’d turn our sights to curbside pick-up. We know there are a lot of questions around curbside pick-up (even when there’s not a global pandemic going on), so we set out to answer them. Plus, we broke things down store by store.

Here’s everything you need to know about curbside grocery pick-up right now.

Is it easier to schedule curbside pick-up than delivery right now?

To be blunt, no, it is not easier to schedule curbside pick-up than delivery right now. The demand for curbside pick-up is just as high as it is for contactless home delivery, with time slots vanishing nearly as soon as they’re posted. Your best bet to secure a time slot is to frequently refresh the booking platform of your preferred participating grocery store. We’re sorry to report that the only answer is to watch for openings like a hawk and pounce when one becomes available.

Does curbside pick-up cost more than in-store shopping? 

It depends on where you’re shopping. Some stores don’t offer any promotional or sale prices on curbside pick-up, but some honor the same deals you’d find in store. Either way, items are almost always going to be cheaper when you’re getting them for pick-up versus delivery. Also, at some stores like Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway, and Target, pickup is free. Others, including Aldi, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, H-E-B, Meijer, charge a fee (typically less than $5). For stores that partner with Instacart, platform fees apply.

Who is doing the shopping for a pick-up order?

This varies by the store. In certain stores, including Albertsons, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, H-E-B, Kroger, Safeway, Target, and Walmart, store employees act as personal shoppers. For stores that partner with the Instacart platform to offer curbside pickup, gig workers for Instacart are entering the store and doing the shopping for you.

Is there usually a minimum or maximum order size?

Again, this is case by case and varies by store. We’ve seen $30 to $35 order minimums at many chains, but others like Target and Meijer do not impose a cart minimum at all. Currently, most stores are actually limiting cart size and the number of duplicate items that may be purchased.

How do you let the store know you’re there?

Each store has their own system, but most have special designated parking areas for pick-up. Customers are instructed to call or text the number on your parking sign, and your shopper will come out to load your car.

Is it rude if you just pop your trunk and stay in the car?

In these strange times, it’s safer for both you and your shopper that you stay in the car and maintain appropriate social distance. However, this does not mean that you should also avoid eye contact. Smile and wave to show your appreciation!

Do you have to tip? How much? Can you do it online? 

Most store-backed programs specify that shoppers don’t accept tips. If you are shopping at a store that partners with Instacart, however, shoppers accept tips through the app (this is a bulk of their take-home pay). You should tip as generously as possible; 20 percent at the very least.

Grocery Stores that Offer Curbside Pickup

We did some digging and gathered details for how 14 regional and national retailers are handling the service. Scroll to find your store below. Note: Pretty much all of these services are dealing with higher-than-usual demand.


Albertsons’ Drive Up & Go program allows you to check for an available time slot before you shop. Once you secure a pick-up time, add items to your cart and an Alberstons employee will shop for you. When it’s ready, drive to your local Albertsons and give them a call when you arrive — an employee will load the groceries into your car for you. Albertsons employees do not accept tips.


Aldi has partnered with Instacart to finally make online shopping and grocery pick-up an option (in certain regions). Visit the Aldi website to create your shopping list, select the nearest location and time slot, and then drive up to the designated pick-up curb (it’ll be painted blue!). An Instacart employee will bring your groceries out to your car.

Food Lion

If you have a Food Lion in your area, their “Food Lion to Go” experience is worth a try. For a $1.99 pick-up fee for orders totaling more than $35, a Food Lion personal shopper will shop your list, text you about substitution options, and bring your groceries out to your car once you’ve pulled into a designated parking space.

Harris Teeter

Harris Teeter ExpressLane is your ticket to a socially distant grocery haul (if you live near one of their 230 stores in the southeast). For a $4.95 service fee, a personal shopper will gather the items on your list and bring the haul out to your car. (Customers are asked to pay online first to expedite the process and limit social contact.) The store is offering a no-fee pick-up for seniors with code SD60.


H-E-B curbside pick-up costs a flat $4.95. Right now, online ordering is only available up to seven days in advance, though, so if you don’t see a slot keep refreshing. (Note that total cart sizes are also limited at this time.) Once you place an order on the H-E-B app, drive to a “curbside pickup” parking spot during your designated time slot. Text the number on the parking sign when you arrive and an H-E-B employee will load your groceries for you.


Kroger has made their pick-up option FREE for shoppers who select it as their preferred shopping method at this time. The chain is warning of longer wait times, limited inventory, and limited pick-up time slots, but assures that they are doing all they can to prioritize worker and customer safety. The deal’s the same: Order online, checkout and pay, let an associate shop for you, pull up to a pick-up parking spot, and call the number on the sign when you arrive.


A Meijer Pick-up ($4.95 per order) is half the price of delivery ($9.95). Prices for items purchased through curbside pick-up are the same as in-store prices, so you can rest assured knowing that there will be no additional markups. (You can also redeem coupons and rewards when you online shop with Meijer.) When your order is ready, you’ll get an email or text from your personal shopper and can pull up to the parking area to collect.


Publix offers two separate options: In-Store Pick-Up and Curbside Pick-Up (only in select locations, via Instacart). In-store pick-up allows you to pre-order deli items (i.e., cult-famous Pub subs), bakery items, and platters in advance. You’ll still have to enter the store to get your goods. Or you can select the curbside option and wait in your car.


Safeway has a Drive Up & Go program where you can shop online and call the store when you’re ready to have the order loaded into your car. Minimum order is $30 and there is no pick-up fee on curbside orders. Simply create an account, reserve a time before you start shopping, and follow the instructions to track your delivery. Note: Rush orders are completed through Instacart, however, and separate fees apply.

Stop & Shop

Stop & Shop recently announced that they are temporarily “putting a pause on pickup services,” so that the store can focus on keeping shelves stocked and prioritizing customers needs. They are however offering “contactless delivery” through Peapod, their online grocery ordering service.


If you miss long walks through Target, you’re not alone. To fill the void, download the Target app, shop from thousands of eligible items, place your order, and wait for a notification that your order is ready for pick-up. From there, drive to a designated Drive Up spot, call the number on the sign, and a Target employee will load your car. (Check if your local Target offers this service here.) Oh, and it’s free.


Use the Walmart site to schedule a no-contact grocery pick-up at participating locations. Pick-up is free, but there’s a $30 minimum purchase. Walmart jut recently announced that the store is expanding its pick-up service at 2,400 stores for at-risk customers. This means that starting at 7 a.m., shoppers over the age of 60, first responders, and anyone considered high-risk by the CDC can pick up their order curbside. “Customers will see a new prompt on the Walmart grocery website that displays the qualifications for selecting the slot listed as ‘At Risk Only’ and allows those who are eligible to opt in,” we were told.


Schedule a Wegmans pick-up online via Instacart. Note that due to high demand, grocery delivery and curbside pick-up times with Instacart are limited or delayed. They are also experiencing a higher number of out-of-stock items.

Whole Foods

You have to be a Prime member to benefit from Whole Foods’ pick-up option, available in the following zip codes. Download the Prime Now app, or visit the website to fill your cart. Choose a preferred pick-up time and get the goods.

What grocery pick-up services have you been using lately?