The planned hiring spree — which would more than double Instacart’s shopping workforce — comes as officials in the U.S. and Canada have urged millions to stay home to combat the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.
“The last few weeks have been the busiest in Instacart’s history and our teams are working around the clock to reliably and safely serve all members of our community,” said Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta.
Instacart said it plans to expand coverage across North America, including 54,000 new workers in California, along with 27,000 in New York, which has been hit hardest by the growing coronavirus pandemic.
The company’s shoppers — who work as independent contractors to gather and deliver items from a variety of stores — will also be offered up to 14 days of paid sick leave if they test positive for COVID-19 or are forced into quarantine due to exposure to the virus.
Many customers have turned to grocery delivery services like Instacart since the novel coronavirus began spreading in the U.S., where over 33,000 cases have been reported as of Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In its statement, Instacart said order volume has grown by more than 150% year-over-year and the average customer basket size has increased by 15%. Grocery delivery services like Instacart have been overwhelmed with demand since the outbreak of the virus, leaving many customers unable to book a delivery at all.
Earlier this month, the company began offering a no-contact option for deliveries of fresh groceries and household essentials. The “Leave At My Door” option was originally intended for drop-offs while customers weren’t home at the time of delivery, but Instacart said it had seen “a significant surge” in the feature’s use.
At the time, the company didn’t say whether coronavirus was behind the option’s sudden popularity.