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Two area Walmarts get click-and-collect grocery

Attention Walmart shoppers: Step away from the cart.

The big box store began offering click-and-collect grocery shopping at two Niagara County locations Tuesday. The grocery pickup program allows customers to select groceries online and pick them up curbside.

The two locations to offer grocery pickup are the Supercenters at 1540 Military Road in Niagara Falls and 886 Niagara Falls Blvd. in North Tonawanda.

Walmart is not the first grocer to offer click-and-collect shopping in the Buffalo Niagara market. Dash's Market began offering both grocery pickup and delivery in 2015, and Tops is developing a grocery pickup and delivery concept for its corporate stores.

At Walmart, shoppers can choose from 30,000 items available to order, including fresh produce, milk and meat, as well as diapers and dog food. Pickup orders cost the same as in-store purchases, with individual items priced identically as they are on the shelves. The service is free.

To use the service, a customer visits or downloads the Walmart Grocery mobile app to a smartphone. At the store, a Walmart "personal shopper" gathers the items on the customer's shopping list, stores them in a refrigerator and freezer and has them ready by the pickup time the customer selected.

Online grocery shopping is common in other parts of the country and is quickly growing. It is expected to become a $17.2 billion industry by 2019, according to a report from research company IBISWorld.

While Walmart is offering free grocery pickup, most stores charge a fee for online shopping services to pay for labor and software.

Locally, Dash's charges a variable percentage on each item, plus $3.99 for pickup orders and $6.99 for delivery orders. It recently expanded its delivery area in response to the program's success.

A franchised Tops Markets, on Center Street in Lewiston, also offers grocery delivery, though it's not transacted online.

Corporate Tops stores are in the process of developing a grocery pickup and delivery concept, which it expects to unveil soon. Wegmans has been piloting a Personal Shopping program at its Pittsford store since 2014, charging a flat $10 fee plus 25 cents per item for pickup orders. It has no plans to expand to the Buffalo Niagara market anytime soon.

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