Let the grocery wars begin? Amazon and Whole Foods Market on Tuesday launched grocery delivery in parts of Palm Beach County, an aggressive play in an area dominated by Publix.
Amazon Prime members can shop through Prime Now for produce, meat and seafood and other items from Whole Foods Market. Delivery is free on some orders -- but Amazon recommends paying a tip.
Amazon, the Seattle giant that bought Whole Foods in 2017, said shoppers should check www.primenow.com to see which Zip codes it serves. According to the Prime Now site, delivery is available in West Palm Beach’s 33401 and 33405 and Lake Worth’s 33460, but not in Jupiter’s 33458 or Delray Beach’s 33445.
Whole Foods has four supermarkets in Palm Beach County, well behind Publix’s 75 locations in the county. Publix offers delivery through Instacart for $5.99 per delivery.
Publix's huge head start in stores means it faces little threat from Whole Foods for now, said supermarket analyst David J. Livingston.
“There’s just a handful of Whole Foods stores in Florida, and hundreds and hundreds of Publix stores," Livingston said. "I think it’s a non-issue.”
Amazon, for its part, charges $7.99 for one-hour delivery but offers two-hour delivery for free on orders of more than $35. At checkout, Amazon recommends paying a $5 tip.
Amazon and Whole Foods launched delivery earlier this year and have been adding new service areas. Tuesday’s announcement included not just parts of Palm Beach County but also parts of Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New York City and Long Island.
Delivery from Whole Foods Market through Prime Now is available daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The service is another perk for members of Amazon Prime, which costs $119 a year.
Publix has anticipated Amazon’s incursion by blanketing Palm Beach County with supermarkets. The new Publix at 500 Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach is just a mile from the Publix at 828 Southern Blvd., two miles from the Publix at CityPlace, three miles from the Publix in Palm Beach, four miles from the Publix on Village Boulevard and five miles from a Publix on Military Trail.
The Publix under construction at the Plaza del Mar in Manalapan is only two miles from the Publix at 1589 W. Lantana Road in Lantana.
By covering Palm Beach County with so many stores, Publix might be finding a way to stay ahead of Amazon.
“The antidote to delivery is convenience,” said Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan.
If shoppers know Publix has multiple locations within a few miles, they’ll be less likely to change their shopping habits by ordering online, Gordon said.
Publix has vanquished Winn-Dixe, which has been shrinking. While Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Aldi have expanded their grocery offerings in Palm Beach County, Publix remains the region’s dominant grocer.