Amazon Prime Pantry temporarily closes as online shopping surges amid coronavirus outbreak

At a Whole Foods Market grocery store in San Ramon, California, signage advertises new discounts for Amazon Prime members.

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Amazon has temporarily closed its Prime Pantry delivery service as it faces a surge in orders tied to the coronavirus outbreak. 

A notice at the top of the Prime Pantry website Thursday read: “Pantry is temporarily closed. We are busy restocking.” The service gives Prime subscribers access to discounted grocery and household items, which they can then have delivered to their door. 

Amazon said the closure was due to “high order volumes” and pointed to other areas of its site that offer similar items, including Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods and the Grocery and Household category. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that Prime Pantry is temporarily closed nationwide. 

“Amazon Pantry is not accepting new orders at this time while we work to fulfill open orders and restock items following increased demand,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC. “We are working hard to make these products available again and will update customers once we can take new orders.”

The spokesperson declined to comment on when Prime Pantry will reopen.   

Prime Pantry, which launched in 2014, offers Prime members a range of non-perishable grocery items, such as cereal, pasta sauce and snacks, as well as household essentials like dish soap and paper towels. Amazon requires shoppers to spend $35 or more to qualify for free shipping on orders. Otherwise, shoppers pay $5.99 for shipping. Prime Pantry sources its products from a range of different grocery and consumer goods vendors. 

Amazon’s same-day and next-day grocery delivery services have also been hit with delays as shoppers have turned to online retailers amid product shortages at physical stores. 

Prime Now and Amazon Fresh delivery windows remain scarce or, in some areas, unavailable for several days. Prime Now shows a notice warning shoppers of limited delivery availability in their area. 

The company’s main website has also suffered from delays and low inventory in recent days. Last week, Amazon warned some Prime “delivery promises are longer than usual.” It also ran out of stock of popular household items, such as toilet paper and bottled water. 

Amazon has sought to address logistics and inventory issues in a number of ways. The company announced it would hire 100,000 new warehouse and delivery workers to keep up with the surge in demand from shoppers. Amazon also told third-party sellers it’s “temporarily prioritizing” shipments of household staples and medical supplies at its fulfillment centers. The change went into effect on Tuesday and is expected to last through April 5.

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