Four Target stores in the Rochester area are the latest to offer drive-up service.
The service allows customers to purchase items online through an app and have them delivered to their car within two minutes of arriving at the Target parking lot. Other stores, such as Wegmans and Walmart, already offer a similar service.
In its latest expansion of alternative forms of convenience shopping, Target is adding Drive Up to stores across Upstate New York, including the Henrietta, Chili, Greece and Irondequoit stores.
Customers must first download the Target app, purchase items online through the app and then select the “Drive Up” option at the virtual checkout. The store notifies the consumer when the items are ready – usually within an hour – for pick-up. Then the customer sends a message that they’re on their way, and drives to a designated spot in the parking lot to accept delivery.
“We’re excited to bring Drive Up to more stores so guests can have more options to get their Target Run done on their terms,” said Dawn Block, senior vice president, digital, at Target.
Among more than 1,500 stores with Drive Up, Target added stores in Hartford, Conn.; Pittsburgh, Altoona and State College, Pa.; and Syracuse, Albany/Schenectady, Binghamton, Ithaca and Buffalo-Niagara Falls in New York.
Target also expanded the service for the first time into New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Outgoing Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero, other law enforcement officials and security staff at Eastview Mall shared some safety and security tips for senior citizens at the mall this week.
The annual holiday shopping safety event was paired with the monthly Seniors and Lawmen Together (SALT) program that Povero began more than two decades ago. The mall frequently hosts SALT, which provides an informational program, physical exercise and a chance for dialogue.
Many of the tips shared by sheriff’s deputies and mall security amounted to often-heard, common-sense advice, such as keeping valuables and packages out of sight in cars, parking in well-lit areas and double checking to make sure cars are locked.
Perhaps less known was information Lt. Al D’Agostino, head of security at Eastview Mall, shared with the seniors gathered for the program Tuesday morning. He said they can rely on mall security for help with a number of situations, such as finding a car when the driver has forgotten where it is, retrieving keys locked inside a car, providing a jump for a dead battery, and escorting shoppers to their cars whether it’s day or night.
“Don’t feel like you’re imposing on us. That’s what we’re here to do,” D’Agostino said. He said mall visitors who need help can just come to the mall’s security office or ask for someone to be summoned. The phone number for assistance is (585) 223-2930.
Two sheriff’s deputies are routinely stationed at the mall, and the number increases during the busy holiday season, said the mall’s general manager, Mike Kauffman.
Povero said the last four or five years have been record low years for car break-ins at Eastview, and other deputies urged elders to make sure they report any suspicious activity.
Kauffman said security staff frequently patrol the mall’s parking lots in cars during cold weather and on bicycles in the warm months. The holidays don’t present any unusual safety and security challenges, he said, other than there are many more people visiting, including some who are unfamiliar with the mall and may need assistance because of that.
The latest grocery delivery service to arrive in Rochester serves Target.
Though Shipt has been delivering groceries and other goods from Target for several years, it only moved into Upstate New York earlier this month. Shipt started making Target deliveries in the Ithaca, Syracuse and Albany areas last week. Buffalo residents can use Shipt to get deliveries from both Target and Gordon Restaurant Market. Altogether, 1.2 million New Yorkers now have access to Shipt.
The new delivery service is membership based. If you pay $99 a year, deliveries are unlimited and free as long as the order comes to $35 or more. There’s a charge of $7 if the order is less than $35.
“Shipt is dedicated to making its members’ busy lives a little easier, and this launch brings the convenience of grocery delivery to communities across the upstate New York region. In the coming months Shipt will launch in additional metros throughout New York, giving delivery access to busy families throughout the state,” said Bill Smith, founder and chief executive officer, in a news release about the Rochester launch of Shipt.
Shipt was founded in 2014 in Birmingham, Ala. Target bought the company at the end of 2017.
Meanwhile, another app-based company, Instacart, is offering similar shopping-and-delivery services for Wegmans, Tops, PriceRite, Costco, CVS and Petco. InstaCart’s basic service charges for each order. That company also offers a $149-a-year membership for unlimited deliveries.
Wegmans’ spokeswoman, Jo Natale, said use of Instacart services by Wegmans customers is growing. It’s offered at the chain’s stores in all six states. In the Pittsford store, Instacart also offers a curbside option where the company does the shopping and the customer pulls up outside the store to receive the delivery.
Shipt hired about 150 independent contractors as shoppers before the program began locally July 10, but it expects to hire more as business ramps up. “We see a big pickup as word of mouth starts to get out,” said Kit Naramore, senior partner and success manager for Shipt. The company expects to hire a total of 570 independent contractors across the state.
“We’re really looking for people who are driven by customer service. Anyone who is going to go above and beyond,” said Naramore. The contractors can choose their hours, much as Uber drivers do.
These kinds of services, favored by brick-and-mortar stores to woo new shoppers with convenience, or to prevent losing old customers to one-click shopping on Amazon, are especially useful for shut-ins, people with mobility issues or people who lack transportation.
Naramore said an adult child with an elderly parent who isn’t tech savvy could set up an account themselves and direct deliveries to the parent as long as the parent lives in the service area of a Target store or other store partnering with Shipt. The owner of the account can also direct deliveries to themself at multiple locations, such as both home and office, or a vacation spot.
In fact, Shipt describes this scenario: using the Shipt app to deliver a cooler, bag of ice, snack and beach toys to wherever you are on vacation. Much of Target’s merchandise – groceries, school supplies, toys, electronics, furniture, pet food and accessories – is available for delivery this way, but apparel is not included yet.
Like many other stores, Target also offers the option to buy its clothing and other items online and have them waiting for pickup at the store.
You can have your Thanksgiving turkey and holiday bargains, too.
Black Friday 2017 and the opening of the holiday shopping season seem a bit more sensible this year.
Some larger chains — Target and Walmart, for instance — are opening at 5 or 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, then closing that same night until early the next morning. That contrasts with some previous years when some stores opened early on Thanksgiving and continued pretty much around the clock for two days.
And that’s still the model Toys R Us largely follows, opening at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving and not closing again until Saturday (Nov. 25) night.
Data from the National Retail Foundation indicates more than 180 million Americans shopped the Black Friday weekend in 2016, with half of them indicating the deals were just too good to pass up. Another third said they shop then because it’s a tradition.
But some retailers are offering an alternative to this shopping chaos. REI, the outdoors cooperative that opened its first store in the area in August, is closed on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday, encouraging people to #OptOutside and post photos online of their outdoor adventures instead of remaining inside shopping.
“We will absolutely still offer the deals for the holidays,” said REI Store Manager Emily Copland. Just not in stores on the day after Thanksgiving. “We will lose some sales, but we see more value in connecting our employees and customers and their loved ones with the outdoors.”
Some stores will skip Thanksgiving and just open a little early the next day.
“We consider ourselves an associate-friendly company and we are pleased to give associates the time to enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends,” said Bethany Crocetti, corporate communications manager for the TJX Companies, which owns TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Sierra Trading Post and Homesense, most of which will be open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.
Crocetti said special deals aren’t being offered because these stores offer bargains all the time.
Artists and artisans at the Hungerford Building on 115 East Main St., meanwhile, have organized a mellower shopping experience called “Don’t Get Malled,” in which individual proprietors will open their studios in the former soda flavorings factory from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Black Friday and again on Small Business Saturday.
It’s still a national holiday about eating, though, and Wegmans will cater to last-minute and forgetful Thanksgiving shoppers on Thanksgiving Day until 4 p.m., then shut the doors that are normally open 24 hours a day and not reopen them until 7 a.m. on Black Friday.
This schedule, said Jo Natale, Wegmans vice president for media relations, “allows our employees to be home with their families for Thanksgiving dinner.” The stores are gearing up for the kind of shopping many customers do that day, Natale said.
“Customers are looking to come in, to pick up their last-minute items on their list or things they might have forgotten,” she said. “They are looking to get in and out as quickly as possible and we try to accommodate it.” Customers can expect side dishes ready to accompany their home-cooked turkeys, for instance, and lots and lots of pies ready to be scooped up.
The shoppers who like to mount a sophisticated attack on Black Friday, on the other hand, will find plenty of ways to accommodate their planning. Some flyers for the special Black Friday bargains are already available on the internet, while there are plenty of promises for more announcements to come closer to the day.
Retailers such as Macy’s, Best Buy and Target were offering their specials online even before they open for in-person shopping Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Managers of local malls this week were still gathering information on which of their tenants expected to be open on Thanksgiving Day. Mike Kauffman, general manager of Eastview Mall, said he had heard from about 20 stores and no restaurants so far that plan to be open for part of Thanksgiving.
“We don’t encourage it, but we certainly accommodate those tenants that choose to do so,” he said. Santa Claus will arrive at the Victor mall the weekend before Thanksgiving and be available on Black Friday, when the mall opens for business at 6 a.m.
On that notorious bargain hunting day, “sheriff’s deputies will assist with traffic control to help us keep things flowing smoothly inside and out,” Kauffman said.
Tradition has it that Black Friday is such a financial success for retailers that profits (written in black ink on ledgers) take the place of debts (written in red.)
“It’s a great symbolic opening day for the shopping season,” Kauffman said. But the season really lasts two full months and not just the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, he said. “November 1 is when it really starts to take off,” and with so many people giving gift cards as Christmas presents, “shopping season really runs through Dec. 31,” he said.
REI’s Copeland said the boost in sales lasts even longer for her store, as customers return, gift card in hand, well into January to purchase skis, snow shoes, snowboards and their other supplies for winter sports.
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