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Saturday April 11, 2020 |Notes

The broken grocery bottleneck

As I biked by two grocery stores with lines of 20 place customers spaced 6 feet apart in front of the entrance, it dawned on me that a good percentage of these shoppers may be shopping for other people. The grocery story capacity isn’t in addition to online grocery services, it includes the Instacart, Whole Foods, etc orders on as part of their physical demand.

With limited hours and capacity, it seems unlikely that the local Safeway, Whole Foods, and mollie stones supermarkets are servicing as many people as in a typical week. With less eating at restaurants (even accounting for takeout) and no meals at work, the demand for groceries has surged well beyond typical. It’s not clear to me how well local grocers are suited to habdle the demand for a sustained period.

In the last few days, I’ve written about the innovation coming to food/grocery delivery. The demand is here now because there is a bottleneck at the supply side that needs to be addressed by stripping away the need to stock retail shelf space, then shop in an inefficient manner by a human retail shopper.

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