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The Best Times To Do Instacart Based On My Experience

  • Best time for Instacart: weekdays 4 PM – 7 PM, high demand.
  • Weekday mornings 7 AM – 9 AM: less traffic, fewer shoppers.
  • Weekends: Saturday 8 AM – 11 AM, and Sunday 4 PM – 7 PM.
  • Holidays, local events, and bad weather increase delivery demand.

If you’ve become an Instacart Shopper and are now wondering how to maximize your time working with the app, worry not.

This is something that a lot of Shoppers wondered about, including myself, when I first started.

I’ve figured it out over the years, and now today, I am going to share with you my favorite times to do Instacart to not only get more batches, but also make as much as I can while shopping.

What is the Best Time to Do Instacart?

Considering all factors, the best overall time to do Instacart is typically during the late afternoon to early evening on weekdays (4 PM – 7 PM).

This period tends to have the highest demand as people are getting home from work and want groceries delivered for dinner or the next day.

This high demand often translates to more orders and potentially higher earnings.

Time PeriodBenefits
Overall Best Time
Weekdays (4 PM – 7 PM)High demand as people return home from work
Weekdays
Morning (7 AM – 9 AM)Less traffic, fewer shoppers
Lunch Break (11 AM – 1 PM)Moderate traffic, quicker store trips
After Work (4 PM – 7 PM)High demand, potentially higher earnings
Weekends
Saturday Morning (8 AM – 11 AM)High order volume, less competition early
Sunday Afternoon (12 PM – 3 PM)Consistent flow of orders
Sunday Evening (4 PM – 7 PM)High demand, busier stores
Other ConsiderationsHigher demand during holidays, events, and bad weather

Other Great Times to Shop With Instacart

When it really comes down to it, the best times to do Instacart are really based on the basic nature of human behavior mixed with typical work and activity schedules.

With a little time and experience, these patterns actually become quite easy to spot while Shopping. It almost becomes second nature after a bit of consistent shopping.

I suggest looking out for several fairly common factors among customers, including local shopping habits, store hours, and the demand for deliveries in your area.

1. Weekdays

The patterns I mentioned above are particularly apparent on weekends when people are more structured and routine.

Between work and school, there is a high level of predictability and stability as people plan for and navigate their weeks.

Patterns that I’ve noticed during the week include:

Mornings (7 AM – 9 AM)

Mornings are one of my favorite times to shop with Instacart because the stores are less crowded, so I can get in, shop, and get out with minimal distractions and things to slow me down.

I also like the early hours because there is less traffic on the road, which means I can deliver the orders to customers much quicker than I can at other rush-hour times like before and after work.

The issue I run into the most while shopping in the morning, however, is that items can potentially not be restocked from the day before.

This issue seems to be a pattern at larger stores that offer cheaper items like Walmart. At more “premium” stores, this doesn’t seem to be as big an issue.

The other downside is traffic – if you aren’t done shopping before people start going to work. This can lead to HUGE delays, especially if there’s something backing up traffic.

There’s nothing more stressful than having a customer waiting on their order before going to work, only to have you get stuck in traffic and have to delay their departure.

Lunch Breaks (11 AM – 1 PM)

My second favorite time of day to shop with Instacart is during lunch breaks, between roughly 11:00 am and 1:00 pm.

I try to take advantage of the fact that there’s moderate traffic and manageable crowds. Like the mornings, this allows me to shop efficiently.

This time seems to be a bit busier than the mornings, but not nearly as busy as the evenings, when people are off work and trying to pick things up at the store last minute or rush to get home for dinner.

Pro Tip: Avoid going to Costco during this time. LOTs of people go to Costco over lunch, which means more traffic, bottlenecks in the store, and an overall stressful experience.

If shopping at Costco, I suggest going either right when they open or roughly 1-2 hours after the lunch rush.

I’ve also found that there is a fairly steady stream of orders over this hour. I’m self-employed, so I try to get 1-2 orders in at least a few times per week during this time.

The downside of shopping over lunch is that you will typically become stressed when trying to complete an order within a limited timeframe.

It also seems like other shoppers are also catching onto this trick. As time goes on, I find these batches to be a bit more competitive, but I still do them regardless.

After Work (4 PM – 7 PM)

The hours between 4:00 pm (right before work lets out) and 7:00 pm (right after the rush to get home from work) bring high demand for orders and increased earnings.

For whatever reason, many people prefer evening deliveries. I think this is because most people have the most time available during that time.

People also get home for the day and realize that they need groceries for dinner or the next day, so they place an order so they don’t have to go out after just getting home.

As a result, there seem to be more consistent and higher-paying batches available more. I really like the consistency during this time.

Of all the weekday times, this does seem to be the busiest for shopping and driving, but the benefits gained from this lucrative period easily outweigh the downsides.

2. Weekends

Unlike shopping during the week, weekends are a bit less routine, but they sometimes do present the unique opportunity for higher earnings as many people tend to prepare for the week ahead during this time.

Shoppers can also take advantage of the lack of consistency with customers placing impulsive and last-minute orders to prepare for other events like parties.

I find myself oftentimes running out of time during the weekends because I am on much less of a structured routine, and look to the convenience of popular delivery services so that I don’t have to cook or shop.

Saturday Morning (8 AM – 11 AM)

Saturday morning (8 AM – 11 AM) is a great time for Instacart Shoppers to work because stores are well-stocked and less crowded, allowing for quicker and more efficient shopping.

Early hours also mean higher customer demand, leading to more orders and increased earning potential to start the weekend strong.

However, waking up early can be challenging, and traffic can still be an issue as people head out for weekend activities.

Sunday Afternoon (12 PM – 3 PM)

Sunday afternoon (12 PM – 3 PM) is a prime time for Instacart Shoppers because it’s a peak shopping period with high customer demand, leading to more orders and increased earnings.

The pace picks up, but stores are still well-stocked, ensuring a productive and profitable shift to end the weekend.

On the downside, this busy period can be stressful, and finding parking may become difficult as stores get more crowded.

Sunday Evening (4 PM – 7 PM)

Sunday evening (4 PM – 7 PM) is an ideal time for Instacart Shoppers as it’s a high-demand period with many customers placing last-minute orders for the upcoming week.

This surge in demand translates to more orders and higher earnings, making it a lucrative time to work and finish the weekend on a strong note.

However, stores may start to run low on popular items, and the pressure to complete orders quickly can be intense as closing times approach.

Other Considerations

Aside from the typical weekday and weekend schedules, several other factors can influence the demand for Instacart deliveries.

Being aware of these additional considerations can help you optimize your working hours and maximize your earnings.

  • Holiday Periods: The days leading up to major holidays (like Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) see a significant increase in grocery orders. Working during these times can be very lucrative.
  • Local Events: Large local events, sports games, or festivals can also spike grocery delivery demand.
  • Weather Conditions: Bad weather (like snowstorms or heavy rain) often increases delivery demand as people prefer not to go out.
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