Mar 23, 2020 - Economy & Business

Instacart plans to hire 300,000 more shoppers in coming months

Kaitlin Myers, an Instacart shopper. Photo: Denver Post/Cyrus McCrimmon

Instacart, the grocery delivery company, plans to hire 300,000 new workers to pick up and deliver orders to customers in North America over the next three months, more than doubling its current staffing.

Why it matters: Delivery services have become crucial for Americans as the coronavirus crisis forces many to stay at home. Instacart says order volume has grown by more than 150% year-over-year in the last few weeks, with the average customer basket size growing 15%.

Go deeper: The gig economy's coronavirus test

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Instacart says it will send health safety kits to delivery workers

Photo: Denver Post/Cyrus McCrimmon

Grocery delivery company Instacart says that beginning next week it will make free safety kits with face masks, hand sanitizer and a thermometer available to the workers who shop for its customers and distribute masks to in-store workers amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Some Instacart workers began a strike on Monday to put pressure on the company to provide them with benefits, safety supplies and additional pay as they — and delivery workers at large — have become a lifeline for many Americans staying in their homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Go deeper: Virus spread emphasizes precariousness of gig economy work

Instacart says strike had "no impact" on operations

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Grocery delivery company Instacart said Monday afternoon that a proposed worker strike had "absolutely no impact" on its operations, and that the platform had 40% more workers than it did at the same day and time last week (Monday at 12:30 pm PST).

Between the lines: Axios is unable to independently verify Instacart's claim, nor accurately gauge how many workers may have stayed home. But, as we wrote earlier, gig economy "strikes" often are more successful at making noise than getting numbers, and the strike organizer intentionally doesn't keep worker lists due to potential legal retaliation.

Instacart workers set to strike during heart of coronavirus crisis

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Some Instacart workers plan to go on strike today, arguing that the grocery delivery unicorn's recent increases in pay and safety equipment are insufficient.

Why it matters: Instacart has become a lifeline for many Americans either unable or unwilling to leave their homes, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.