CADILLAC — Walking into a grocery store can sometimes feel like entering a gauntlet of marauding carts, pushy patrons and endless lines.
It can be time-consuming and stressful, especially when rambunctious kids are involved.
Enter the professional shopper.
Throughout the U.S. and even the Cadillac area, more and more people are turning to grocery shopping and delivery services rather than going to the store themselves.
"Meijer Home Delivery launched in August 2017 at our Cadillac store, and we now offer the service at all 246 of our stores across the Midwest," said Meijer Public Relations Manager Joe Hirschmugl. "Our goal is to make shopping as easy and convenient as possible by offering options that best meet your needs on any given day."
Shipt is one of the third-party companies that provides the service for Meijer.
Shipt representative Julie Coop said the company was started in founder Bill Smith’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, to help individuals with little or no time for grocery shopping.
From there, Coop said Shipt moved into other cities nearby and has since grown into one of the largest same-day delivery marketplaces in the country and is available to 70% of households across the U.S.
"Shipt will continue to grow, guided by its mission of simplifying lives," Coop said. "Shipt is focused on launching in new markets and expanding existing partnerships to bring same-day delivery to new members — and with increased demand, Shipt will need more shoppers, too."
Shipt isn't the only game in town; Instacart also provides the service at Meijer, Aldi, Family Fare and Gordon Food Service Store, and Walmart recently launched its own service.
Forbes, Business Insider and CNBC have all published reports outlining the rise in popularity of grocery delivery services across the country by companies such as Target, Walmart and Kroger.
The reports note the primary motivation for many companies entering the home-delivery business is to compete for online grocery sales — a market that has doubled in value in the last couple of years, according to Business Insider.
The online journal Grocery Dive reports that same-day grocery delivery offerings from major retailers grew by 500% in 2018.
"The rapid rise in grocery delivery can be traced back to Instacart," the Grocery Dive report states. "Instacart's partnerships with more than 300 U.S. grocers has made grocery delivery widely available, and the company doesn't show signs of slowing down ... The presence of Instacart is also fueling healthy competition in the industry as many retailers try to design their own grocery delivery services, which is contributing to further expansion."
The Cadillac News reached out to Instacart for comment on their growth in the Cadillac area and U.S., but they declined to comment on the record.
Cadillac resident Denise Budnick is a single mother who remembers taking her kids grocery shopping — something they considered a punishment because of how long it sometimes took, she joked.
Budnick said she personally enjoys shopping but many other people find it to be a hassle for a variety of reasons.
In October of 2017, Budnick became a shopper with Shipt, which means that every night after she finishes her full-time job, she shops for a few hours.
"It was a perfect fit for me," Budnick said.
Mobility issues, busy schedules, and a desire to stay within budget, on a diet, or not be tempted to make impulse buys are all reasons people use a home-delivery service, Budnick said.
Although most of the Shipt members she shops for prefer home delivery, some pick up the items at the store after they've been paid for, Budnick said.
"With a toddler at home, a one-car family, and anxiety, (grocery delivery) has been a valuable addition to my life," Cadillac resident Shawna Theobald said.
"I’m out of delivery range so I do pick up," area resident Ashley Belanger said. "I do it because taking three kids grocery shopping under 5 years old is very difficult and exhausting."
"It saves us time, because we don't have to take the kids with us in the store — where they beg for things — and also money, because we only get what we planned for, without needless extras," said area resident Samantha Oxby.
While the service is valuable to many, Forbes reported that the vast majority of shoppers still prefer to go to the store themselves.
"I'll shop for myself, thanks," said Cadillac resident Jamie Stearns. "This is mainly because I'm too frugal with my money to pay someone to do something I can do myself. While I think it's great for those with disabilities, I think it's just another way to make Americans lazy while making a profit."