Walmart says it has partnered with Instacart to attempt, once again, to deliver groceries to New York City. Starting yesterday, people living in parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx can now place orders that will be filled by workers at the nearest stores outside the city (the two closest are located in the Long Island village Valley Stream and Secaucus, New Jersey). Instacart drivers will collect the orders and bring them to customers’ homes. The service isn’t available yet to anyone in Manhattan.
Walmart is apparently determined to crack the New York City market—a trophy that’s eluded the company for a decade. A crazy stat Walmart loves to tout is that 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of one of its stores. But none of those stores are in America’s biggest and densest city, where Walmart surely would like to set up a beachhead as rival Amazon continues ramping up grocery delivers in urban areas.
New York officials’ long-running opposition to Walmart is curious. Mayor Bill de Blasio has hated on the retailer for years. “I don’t think it is a state secret that I am very uncomfortable with Walmart,” he told Newsday in 2014. The city has welcomed numerous other big-box chains where hourly pay for employees and the toll on local competitors are on par with Walmart’s, and it of course unapologetically wooed Amazon in 2017.
After failing to get even a lowly grocery center inside the city, Walmart tried to offer grocery deliveries through its site Jet.com, until that service went belly-up in 2019. This was replaced with something called JetBlack, a premium fast-delivery service that only operated in Manhattan—but then that, too, got scrapped in 2020.
The sales revenue that this $500 billion company with 10,000 stores in 24 countries can squeeze from New Yorkers is practically a rounding error, but a Walmart spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, that this is purely about “reaching more customers.” It isn’t Walmart’s first time partnering with Instacart either—a company it competes with in other markets. The two began delivering groceries in Canada in 2019, and last year expanded to California and Oklahoma.