The best grocery delivery service to see you through the coronavirus pandemic probably isn't a delivery service at all: with delivery slots booked weeks ahead, you may need to turn to click and collect services instead.
If you're self-isolating due to COVID-19, it's believed click and collect is safe enough for you to use.
But you need to be smart when you're shopping, as click and collect slots are quickly disappearing too.
The cheapest online supermarket
We compared the price of the following items at each supermarket: two pints of semi-skimmed milk; Hovis soft white bread; 6x salad tomatoes; 0.35kg of broccoli; 5x bananas; 5x oranges; 5% lean beef mince; a medium whole fresh chicken. Here's who was cheapest:
Amazon Fresh: £11.84
It’s hard to know which is the best grocery delivery service in normal times: the prices change, delivery costs vary, and quality of service can often come down to the delivery driver on the day. But with the coronavirus pandemic and its associated panic-buying and lack of delivery slots, it’s even harder to know where to start.
That’s why we reviewed 10 grocery delivery services over the weekend. We ordered the same nine basic items from each so we could compare price and quality, and added a handful of specialist items to the baskets too. This fell below the minimum order for most of the stores, so we then topped up our baskets with items that we could donate to our local Trussell Trust foodbank.
What we learnt is this: book your grocery delivery or click and collect slot first before you spend time filling up your basket, so you don’t miss your chance to secure a slot. Be prepared to nearly two weeks for a slot. Expect that many items will become unavailable between placing your order and receiving the groceries, so allow for substitutions where possible. If you're getting home delivery, use the delivery notes option to report if you’re self-isolating. And if you're using click and collect, take bags with you as this will make it much easier to unpack later.
We're still waiting for groceries to be delivered by Ocado, and we'll update this review once we receive them.
Morrisons - the best grocery delivery serviceImage 3 of 4
Morrisons price comparison
White bread: £0.99
5 bananas: £1.00
5 oranges: £1.75
Beef mince: £4.70 for 750g
Fresh whole chicken: £3.50
Morrisons is the best grocery delivery service right now. We’re giving it our top vote because delivery is affordable - and it was the only supermarket that had open slots earlier this week (although that has now changed).
Even today (Thursday) it was the shop with the soonest delivery slot available. Plus, Morrisons is the only one to tell you when the next available slot is - all the others make you scroll through days upon days of sold-out slots.
It's important to note that click and collect is much more limited with Morrisons - so if you want to click and collect, you should try another grocery delivery service mentioned below.
Morrisons grocery delivery has a typical minimum spend of £40 and will charge between £2 and £5 for delivery. We managed to get a next-day delivery slot last week, but it cost us £5.
We chose bagless delivery, and only the chicken came in a (paper) bag. Unfortunately most of the fruit and veg was pre-packaged and wrapped in plastic; there was no option to choose loose.
We didn’t get an email to confirm the order - so we had to login to the website again and double check everything went through. We received a text on the morning of delivery to say some items were unavailable, and to check our email for details, but that didn’t come either.
The total price for our nine items was £14.84, making it the most expensive of all the supermarkets - but we think that's because the beef mince was a bigger pack (750g instead of 500g) and the oranges were expensive. Unfortunately Morrisons fell down when it came to specialist items, as the gluten-free bread and oat milk weren’t in stock.
Shopping on the Morrisons website was really easy. The search box was nice, as it takes you to a filtered page. And you can edit your basket until midnight the day before delivery, which was the latest cut-off time of all the shops.
It’s even cheaper to use Morrison’s grocery delivery service with their delivery pass. The offers range between mid-week or anytime, and for one month, six months, or a year. The cheapest option is one month of mid-week deliveries for £5, or £1.25 a week - but if you go for a year, this works out at 67p per week. For anytime deliveries, it costs between £8 for one month/£2 a week, or £65 for a year/£1.25 a week.
Unfortunately Morrisons grocery delivery service doesn’t cover the whole of the UK just yet, so you’ll need to check your postcode.
ASDA price comparison
White bread: £1.15
5 bananas: £0.70
5 oranges: £1.50
Beef mince: £2.82
Fresh whole chicken: £2.82
ASDA’s grocery delivery service had the biggest availability of delivery slots when we were shopping. Even when writing this (at 2pm on Monday), I could still reserve a slot for Saturday - a feat that no other supermarket except Morrisons could beat. However, the slots have been snapped up since then, as you'd expect, and we've seen the site go down too.
It could be a good option for a click and collect order, but the first slot we could book was for 12 days' time.
Delivery price varies: you can pay between £2 and £6.50 for a slot. The service is adequate: if you don’t need anything more than a brief disclaimer about substitutions, this grocery delivery service will be good enough for you. And if you’re on a budget, you’ll be reassured to know they don’t charge extra if they substitute an item with a pricer one - unlike Sainsbury’s.
ASDA also came out as the cheapest in our price comparison - and their rollback discount meant the nappies from our specialist list were up to a third cheaper than elsewhere.
We didn’t love our experience with ASDA - but we didn’t dislike it either. Our only gripe would be that they substituted antibacterial hand wipes with facial cleanser wipes - a swap that makes no sense to us, particularly in this climate. All other substitutions were for more premium brands, so on balance it evens out.
If you frequently use grocery delivery services, you may find their delivery pass will save you money. It costs £24 for a midweek 12 month pass, £35 for a six-month anytime pass, and £55 for a 12-month anytime pass - so that works out at between 46p and £1.40 per week.
Tesco price comparison
White bread: £1.00
Tomatoes: £0.69 for cherry tomatoes
Eggs: £1.70 (own brand unavailable)
5 bananas: £0.70
5 oranges: £1.50
Beef mince: £2.79
Fresh whole chicken: £2.95
If it was possible to book a grocery delivery slot with Tesco, we'd have put them in first place - and if these were normal circumstances, they would probably win.
But unfortunately, the popularity of Tesco means their delivery slots are full and the first click and collect slot we could book was 15 days away.
We really like that you have two hours to complete your order after you choose a delivery slot - which is longer than the other sites, and comes in very handy if you’re shopping while distracted. Plus the website is a breeze to use, and clearly shows freshness guarantees for fresh items and highlights when something has been price-matched.
Tesco doesn’t charge extra for premium substitutions. We received a different brand of eggs, but that was the only change to our shopping list. The driver apologised because we had a few substitutions in the wider shopping, and checked we were happy with them.
Delivery costs between £2 and £7 - but click & collect is free if you spend over £25.
We like that you don’t have to meet the minimum spend of £40 - but the £4 penalty for falling below this amount, on top of a potential £7 delivery fee, can make this a costly option.
However, if you use Tesco’s grocery delivery service often, you could save money with their delivery pass. The options cover same-day, any day, or mid-week deliveries and you can pay in monthly or six-monthly installments. The cheapest is the one-month midweek pass at £3.99, and the most expensive is the one-month same-day pass at £12.99 a month.
Sainsbury's price comparison
White bread: £1.20
5 bananas: £0.72
5 oranges: £0.90
Beef mince: £3.10
Fresh whole chicken: £3.30
Sainsbury’s grocery delivery service was unavailable for three weeks to our location - so we booked click & collect instead. We haven’t used click & collect before so it seemed strange: we didn’t receive any information on how it worked, and the car park was poorly signposted.
We eventually worked out where to go, we drove alongside a delivery van and then loaded everything into our boot. We wish we took carrier bags with us, as the items were packed loose into the boot and it was a pain to unload at home.
The driver was very friendly and explained that we had substitute items - but next time we shop with Sainsbury’s, we’ll be refunded the price difference we paid for these items, so we wouldn’t lose out in the long-run. This was a surprise.
The email that warned about the substitutions didn’t contain any price information, so we assumed we wouldn’t be charged. When we tried to check this, our receipt on the website shows the original order and not the information for the substitutes, so we’re still very confused about what happened to the price.
Sainsbury’s was in the middle of the pack when we compared the price of our shopping list, costing us £12.31. And while their minimum spend is much lower than the rest, at £25, they’ll charge you £7 for delivery. If you spend over £40, you’ll be charged between 50p and £7.
We can’t recommend Sainsbury's grocery delivery service because we didn’t get a chance to try it - and we won’t, for the foreseeable future. And charging us extra for substitutions beyond our control seems incredibly unfair.
Waitrose price comparison
White bread: £1.00
5 bananas: £0.96
5 oranges: £1.35
Beef mince £3.33 for 400g
Fresh whole chicken: £2.99
Waitrose’s grocery delivery service has the highest minimum spend (£60), but that’s met with free delivery and superior service. The driver asked if I was a new shopper and explained how everything worked. As well as talking me through the substitutes, he explained that they would take anything back that I wanted them to and was the friendliest of all the drivers.
The website seems easy enough to use - except I managed to order four pints of milk instead of two, and ordered white eggs instead of normal free range (stock was low, and I didn’t realise they weren’t normal eggs). We’ll chalk that up to user-error though.
Our shopping list cost £12.99, making it the one of most expensive. But with such a high minimum spend, it’s clearly not a grocery service for budgeters.
When you use the grocery delivery service, you can still vote for a good cause after you’ve checked out. But that’s the only benefit we can see to using this service - particularly because Waitrose products are available through Ocado, and they have a much lower minimum spend. We’re not sure why you’d choose Waitrose over Ocado for grocery delivery - unless you couldn’t get a delivery slot with Ocado, like us.
For now, you may not even get a choice: the Waitrose site has been down sporadically over the last week.
Iceland price comparison
White bread: £0.85, Warburtons
Eggs: £1.00, large
5 bananas: £1.00
5 oranges: £1.75, bag of easy peelers
Beef mince: £3.00, 450g frozen
Fresh whole chicken: £3.00, small
Iceland's grocery delivery service has the lowest minimum spend of £25. At this price, you’ll have to pay £2 for delivery - but it becomes free once you spend £35 or more.
We managed to book a slot very easily, and the food came the next day - but unfortunately that's no longer the case as you can only book up to a week ahead on their site.
Only one item was unavailable. We received a text that pointed us to an email with full details, and we weren’t charged because there was no substitute. Unfortunately the eggs we received were cracked - and the bananas were confusingly dirty.
The Iceland website isn’t as easy to use as some others; the search is quite clunky. The product selection mirrors the stores, which means it didn’t have any of the specialist items we wanted - and fresh options were limited.
The total price for our nine items was £12.89, making them a more pricier grocery delivery service option. They didn’t have any of the specialist items and we had to swap Hovis for Warburtons in our order. But if your shopping list is focused on frozen foods, or you want to buy Greggs or Slimming World products, then Iceland would be the best option.
If you’re self-isolating, you have to tell the driver to leave the items on the doorstep. Unlike some other shops, they don’t have a way to make this clear when you order.
Amazon Pantry is a grocery delivery service for prime customers that will give you next-day delivery on a limited number of items to fill your food cupboard or bathroom. It doesn’t sell any fresh items, so we couldn’t get anything from our list. Instead, we filled up on items requested by our local Trussell Trust foodbank.
Amazon Pantry is part of the wider Amazon website, and the grocery delivery service is the same as the general Amazon experience. It’s pretty reliable - but one misstep with the search box and you’ll end up in a different part of the site and end up ordering items outside of its Pantry service. It gets very confusing.
The product range is very limited. Don’t be fooled by the site showing photos of bags of pasta, oils and cereals: the reality is that most of the items pictured aren’t actually for sale.
Amazon Pantry has 13 categories across its food cupboard range, and confectionery was the only one that’s well-stocked. Its drinks range has plenty of coffee or energy & health drinks, but that’s it; the beer, wine & spirits section is overflowing with spirits only; the household section has a variety of air fresheners but limited options for everything else. Only two areas have plenty of stock: the pet section, and the health & beauty section.
Amazon Pantry is not one of the best grocery delivery services around; it’s simply too low on stock for what we’d consider essential food cupboard items for us to recommend it - and our package was so damaged that anything could have slipped out in transit. But if you want to avoid going to the shops right now just for health and beauty, baby, or pet food items, it could be an option to try first.
Amazon Fresh price comparison
White bread: £1.00
5 bananas: £1
5 oranges: £1.25
Beef mince: £2.79
Fresh whole chicken: £2.95
Amazon Fresh is Amazon’s grocery delivery service for fresh items. It’s confusing that it’s separate to its Pantry brand, but the main difference is Amazon Fresh is primarily for fresh/fridge items.
The user experience makes this - without doubt - the absolute worst grocery delivery service on the market. You can reserve a delivery slot, but when you shop for items you’ll be told that they aren’t available for that delivery time and you need to change your slot to receive these items. It’s the most confusing experience.
Alternatively, you can fill up your basket first and then you have to check every single delivery time to see how many of your items can be delivered on that day. If you have a basket of 20 items, you may find that only two can be delivered on one date, for example. It's very time consuming.
In the end, we couldn’t get the items on our shopping list. Because food banks don’t accept fresh food, we decided to call it quits and cancelled the order when it became obvious that we wouldn’t receive the items we wanted. Thankfully, this was a simple process.
It’s this flexibility that allows Amazon Fresh to avoid bottom place of this list of this review of grocery delivery services. We weren’t charged when we placed the order, so we didn’t lose any money, thankfully.
Co-op price comparison
Milk: £0.90, skimmed
White bread: £0.90, Warburtons
Tomatoes: £1.85, cherry tomatoes on the vine
5 bananas: £1.10
5 oranges: n/a
Beef mince: £4.00
Fresh whole chicken: £5.35, large
We had a truly painful experience with Co-op’s grocery delivery service. We didn’t get a confirmation email, so the next day we asked them on Twitter to help us work out when the delivery was due to come - and were told they couldn’t see an order for us.
Our card had already been charged, so we were confused. We called customer service but gave up after 10 minutes on hold. We called again the next day, and after 15 minutes we were connected with someone who finally confirmed we did have an order, and it was due to be delivered in one hour.
We got a text to say the order had been collected, and we could track the delivery - a level of detail other grocery delivery services don’t provide. But that was the only positive thing about this experience.
The order came - but it contained only three items: milk, dog food, and cherry tomatoes. The driver said nothing as they handed us the bag. We called customer service again and were told all the items were unavailable and that the money hadn't come out of our account because it was only a pre-authorisation.
That is simply untrue: we were charged £29.65 for our shop on March 16, for a delivery on March 18. It took a week for us to receive a refund, but we still haven't received any communication so we can't check if the refund is correct.
The only way we could ever see you using Co-op’s grocery delivery service is if you can’t get out of your house and you need items to be delivered the same day. But our advice to you is to avoid at all costs, particularly as empty shelves mean you’re not going to get what you ordered anyway, customer service is dire, and you'll have to battle to get a refund.