Whole Foods Curbside Pickup Is Now Available. Here’s When It’s Worth It

A customer holds a grocery bag outside a Whole Foods in Atlanta, GA.
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Amazon Prime customers will find another new benefit at Whole Foods Markets this year: curbside pickup.

The upscale grocery store announced this week that it will launch the program now at two of its more than 470 stores, with more cities to be added as 2018 wanes.

Prime members can place orders through the Prime Now app and select the pickup option. Orders of at least $35 can be picked up in 30 minutes for a fee of $4.99; if you can wait an hour, you can pick up your order for free. Whole Foods promises dedicated pickup spots so customers don’t have to get out of their cars to grab their goods.

The service — which will be available between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily — is part of a larger rollout of Whole Foods perks for Amazon Prime members since the e-commerce giant bought the specialty grocer last year.

Whole Foods launched delivery via Prime Now in February and also allows customers to add items to their Prime Now carts through Alexa voice commands.

What’s the Convenience of Curbside Pickup Worth?

Whole Foods is just the latest grocer to offer curbside pickup among ever-expanding delivery options.

Walmart and Target both offer curbside pickup in a growing number of markets without an extra fee. Traditional grocery stores also offer curbside pickup in many markets. Kroger and Meijer charge order fees for pickup that vary by location. Giant Eagle charges $4.95 to pick up a Curbside Express order.

Minimum order requirements are also common: Walmart requires a minimum $30 order. Safeway has a $49 minimum order and charges $3 for curbside pickup unless your order is worth more than $150.

And delivery services often charge higher item prices in exchange for the convenience of home delivery, some with memberships of their own.

But while Whole Foods’ curbside offering is in line with what other grocery stores are charging for the convenience of order pickup, it’s the only one charging a $120 yearly fee in addition to the curbside fee.

The question for shoppers, then, is whether saving time is worth spending for curbside pickup. Time-crunched Whole Foods fans may value the time they’d spend wandering the aisles, risking distraction by new, tasty items. But those who typically place smaller orders or only occasionally shop at Whole Foods likely wouldn’t want to rush into this offering.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder covering the retail and grocery industries.