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NYC mulls banning grocery apps from advertising 15-minute deliveries

The news: A proposed New York City Council bill would ban grocery apps from promising 15-minute delivery as part of a larger push to regulate the industry, per The New York Post.

  • New York City Councilman Christopher Marte told The Post that rapid delivery times “incentivize delivery workers on e-bikes and scooters to break traffic laws and put themselves and pedestrians in danger.”
  • The bill will be introduced among a larger package of legislation, which could also include increased protections for grocery workers.

How we got here: Governments around the world are becoming concerned about the community impact of rapid grocery delivery services, as well as their labor practices.

  • As shoppers opt for grocery delivery over in-person store visits, bodegas and other local convenience stores are struggling to compete.
  • In Europe, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Lyon have chosen to freeze or ban openings of “dark stores” (fulfillment locations for online orders), while Paris’ deputy mayor for urban development Emmanuel Gregoire warned of “heavy financial and penal consequences” for companies that fail to receive proper authorization for their warehouses.
  • Workers at delivery companies are also speaking out against low pay, lack of transparency, and suboptimal working conditions.

Will the law pass? The current legislative efforts around regulating rapid grocery are reminiscent of early attempts to rein in Uber amid protests from taxi drivers, most of which were ultimately unsuccessful.

  • However, by focusing on issues of public safety and zoning, local governments could make the case for more oversight and potentially limit grocery apps’ growth.