Being an Instacart shopper offers flexibility and the chance to make some extra cash by delivering groceries to people. But not all the times are equal when it comes to Instacart shopper’s earnings.
Generally, mornings and evenings are the peak earning times to make the most money with Instacart. Many shoppers do the early morning gig to avoid traffic and competition from other shoppers in the zone.
So, if you are looking to go shopping early in the morning, you might be wondering, what time does Instacart start its orders for the day? And what time do Instacart batches start in the morning?
To answer this question, in this article, we’ll talk about what time Instacart orders start and how this can differ based on different factors.
We’ll also offer some handy tips on the best time to shop Instacart orders to help you find more work and boost your income. This will help you grab the best options before other shoppers get to them.
So, let’s get started!
What Time Do Instacart Orders Start?
Orders on Instacart start appearing as early as 5:30 a.m. in some markets, although this can vary widely and the most common time is 8 a.m. The time at which batches start popping up tends to depend on several factors like regional demand, store opening times (MOST IMPORTANT), and the day of the week.
The weekend may have a different schedule altogether; some shoppers say that from Monday through Thursday, orders start at 8 a.m. when the stores usually open, but from Friday through Sunday, they start at 7 a.m.
However, early morning might not always offer the best batches (many leftover orders from the previous day that shoppers didn’t take due to low tips or more items); some shoppers find more lucrative opportunities starting around 9-10 a.m. (you can figure out by testing only).
Overall, if you’re looking to start early, it’s a good idea to check when your local stores open, because then only you can do the shopping.
Or you can start monitoring the app closely from as early as 5:30 a.m. for a test and figure out the exact time batches start dropping in your market.
Are Instacart Early Batches Worth It?
From hundreds of shoppers’ experience, the morning orders are worth it for most. Many people find working in the morning easy in less traffic and less competition. Plus, people with low ratings who get low priority in orders during peak evening times compared to badge rates drivers can get some dough in the morning when most others are not active. However, there are also complaints of many low-paying or low-tip orders in the morning. So choose your orders wisely and position yourself near the store before it opens to grab the best orders which can make your early efforts worth it. When something worthwhile comes up on your screen snatch it fast.
Many love working in the mornings, as this shopper says, “I usually start around 8 am and end around 2 pm. Mornings are best for me as there are fewer shoppers and more batches. Plus, it lets me dodge the afternoon traffic.” – Reddit user
It all comes to personal preferences as this one likes working at night, “I like working late nights because some solid batches with high tips come in for people ordering alcohol or snacks. Also, fewer people in the stores means I can zip through my list.” – Reddit user
Plus the users who live in hotter areas like Arizona, noons tend to be very hot and earning their dough in the cooler mornings is worth it.
For people who are not used to getting up early, it might not be worth it as it can completely jeopardize their sleep routines and can even lead to mishaps.
Another factor is the market, and a few markets are better for early orders than others. Like this one:
And no one else can figure that out for you. You go out for a week at least and figure out if getting up early is worth it in your market.
Drawbacks Of Working Early Batches
Most early batch drops are the orders customers place in the night for which they need deliveries in the mornings whenever the stores open in that area.
As we discussed above there are obvious benefits of less traffic, lower competition, and good orders to choose from, but it does not come without some issues.
There are tons of orders in the early drops from the day before that were not taken up as they have some issues like low tips or too many things. Scanning through these orders can make you lose good orders as they are taken up fast.
Plus when you are shopping in the morning most items are not restocked on shelves especially deli (I know the Instacart app should show only in-stock items, but they often make mistakes), so you will be going back and forth with customers for replacements or refunds that customers don’t want in the morning.
In this regard, Monday mornings are especially bad after Sunday shopping.
What Time Does Instacart Open
Instacart operates around the clock and you can access both the shopper and customer apps at any time of day.
However, the availability of shopping batches depends on the operating hours of local grocery stores. So if the stores are closed, there won’t be any batches up for grabs.
Likewise, customers can’t schedule deliveries when all nearby stores have their doors shut.
However, Instacart partners with stores like 7-Eleven, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and Safeway that are open 24/7. This means you can find batches to shop for at any time, day or night, from these specific retailers.
On the other hand, some stores might still have extended hours, giving you opportunities to work late into the evening or start early in the morning.
So you’ve got a good range of options when picking your batches and setting your schedule.
How to Get Started With Instacart
So, now you know that you can include this side gig in your morning work before your main job or college starts as this shopper says below.
If you haven’t yet started, here are the basic things you need to start shopping for Instacart:
- See if You’re a Fit: To be an Instacart shopper, you gotta be at least 18, legally able to work in the U.S., own a smartphone that can run the Instacart app, and clear a background check. And if you’re aiming to be a full-service shopper, add a driver’s license, a reliable car, and the ability to lift up to 40 pounds to that list.
- Sign Up: Head to Instacart’s site or app. You’ll have to fill in some basics like your name, address, and social security number.
- Pick Your Role: Instacart offers two gigs. One is a full-service shopper who shops and delivers. Two, an in-store shopper who gathers stuff but doesn’t deliver. Choose what fits you.
- Learn the Ropes: An online orientation will give you a walkthrough of how to shop effectively and keep customers happy.
- Wait for Approval: A background check is the last hurdle. Once cleared, you get a starter kit including a prepaid debit card for buying groceries or you will be put on the Instacart waitlist if there are too many drivers in your market.
- Get Rolling: Link your debit card to your account in the app, set up direct deposit, and you’re good to go.
Extra Reading: How Instacart Instant Cashout Works?
The Instacart app is your command center. Here’s what you’ll find inside:
- Dashboard: All your stats, from how much you’ve earned to your working hours, are here.
- Earnings: Look here to find out what you’ve made weekly, your tips, bonuses, and how to cash out.
- Performance: This is where you see customer feedback and other metrics that measure how well you’re doing.
- Profile & Settings: Tweak your details, payment methods, and more here.
- Help & Support: Got questions? Get answers here.
- Available Batches: This is the goldmine. It shows all the orders you can pick up.
The Basics of Instacart Orders
Customers place their orders for groceries through the Instacart app. As soon as a customer places an order, it becomes available for shoppers to grab through their own Instacart Shopper app.
Orders pop up on your app’s batches screen. It’s like a catalog of what’s up for grabs, complete with store names, how far they are, and what the order’s worth (tips included).
Tap on any order for a closer look, what’s in it, where it’s going, and any notes from the customer. You’ve got a limited time to say “yes” or “no” before the order moves on, possibly to another shopper.
Saying “no” too often won’t kick you off the platform, but might affect certain perks. Instacart’s got a range of orders, full service, delivery-only, pick-up, online pay, and even alcohol deliveries requiring age verification. You’ll get the low-down on each type once you get started.
So, What Time Does Instacart Get Busy?
The question of “what time does Instacart batches start in the morning” or “what time does Instacart stop delivering” is really down to where you’re located and how busy stores are. Generally, batches start as early as 8 a.m. and go until midnight.
Whether you’re a morning bird catching the Instacart worms or a night owl swooping in for late-night batches, you choose your own adventure. The best time to shop at Instacart is whenever works for you. However, here is a general guideline on busy times on Instacart.
Busy Times for Shopping (Peak Hours)
So, what time do Instacart batches start in the morning, and when do they peak? Generally, people want groceries during certain hours:
- Weekdays: Usually from around 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. This is when people are done with work or school and think about groceries.
- Weekends: Pretty much any time, since most people are home and stock up their weekly supplies.
Working these peak times can be good for your wallet. You’ll find more orders, better tips, and sometimes Instacart will even give you a bonus called ‘peak pay’ for working busy hours.
This extra pay can range from $2 to $10 or more for each batch of groceries you handle.
A reddit user mentioned, “I like working late evenings because there’s less traffic and parking hassle. Plus, customers tend to tip better at night.”
Another shopper added, “Weekend mornings are particularly lucrative as well since this is when many people want to order groceries.”
But, of course, busy times have downsides too:
- More shoppers like you are looking for orders.
- You might have to deal with more cars on the road and crowded stores.
- Items might be out of stock, requiring you to chat with customers more.
As this shopper pointed out, “Evenings (4 pm to 9 pm) are a hot time slot, but the downside is more traffic and possibly more hassle.”
Extra Reading: Can You Make $1k A Week With Uber Eats?
Slower Times for Shopping (Off-Peak Hours)
So, what time does Instacart stop delivering, and when is it slow? Slow times are:
- Weekdays: Around 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, when most people are at work.
- Late nights: About 10:00 pm to 6:00 am, because most stores are closed.
During slow times, you’ll have less competition from other shoppers, less traffic, and maybe even find clearance items. But the downsides include fewer orders, lower tips, and less base pay.
Special Circumstances That Impact Shopping Times
Ever wonder about the “best time to shop Instacart?” Some days offer more batches and better pay, like weekends and holidays.
Holidays and Major Events
Certain events and conditions can change how many orders you get and how much customers tip. These include holidays, major events like the Super Bowl, and even the weather. In fact, some Instacart shoppers have weighed in on this:
“I only work special days if the batches have high tips and low mileage. Otherwise, I enjoy my day off.” Another user pointed out, “I always check the app early in the morning on special days. Sometimes I score a big order before anyone else can grab it.”
Here’s what a Reddit user had to say about their Thanksgiving experience:
“I worked 8am-2pm today (Thanksgiving) and made $200. I was surprised at how busy it was. Most of the orders were small but had high tips. The stores were not crowded at all and had plenty of stock. Some items, like turkeys or pies, were either out of stock or had limits, but most customers were understanding.”
But here’s the catch: while more orders might come in, these days can also mess with store hours, make traffic worse, and result in items being out of stock.
Another Shopper’s Super Bowl Sunday experience:
“I worked 9am-5pm today (Super Bowl Sunday) and made $150. It wasn’t as busy as I expected. The stores were crowded, and I had to deal with ID verifications for alcohol, which slowed me down. Some customers were not home or didn’t have their IDs, which wasted a lot of time.”
When thinking about what time do Instacart batches start in the morning, or at any time, you also need to consider the weather.
Extreme weather conditions like snowstorms or heatwaves often mean more people will order groceries rather than going out. Yet, these conditions can also make your job harder. For instance, you may face dangerous driving conditions or have difficulty finding parking.
Here’s a Quora user’s experience during a snowstorm:
“I worked 10am-6pm during a snowstorm and made $300. The stores had enough stock, but the hard part was driving in the snow and finding parking. Some customers hadn’t shoveled their driveways, making it tough to carry bags.”
How to Make More Money On Instacart
While picking the right time slot to work is crucial for your Instacart earnings, there are some other factors that have a say in your earnings and can change your fortunes if you are getting no or fewer orders. For example:
- Be Picky: Don’t just accept any order. Look for ones that pay well and aren’t too far away. Most shoppers explain that it makes sense only to take orders that pay at least $1 a mile if not $2 a mile.
- Wait Near Stores: Proximity to the store is one of the factors based on which orders are assigned. So, when you are waiting for the morning batch of orders to start, wait near your favorite store to pick the better orders.
- Be Quick To Select Orders: While you need to be choosy to sort good orders from bad ones, you need to be quick also. Good orders are snatched in seconds and if you waste time on deciding, you may lose the order.
- Speed and Efficiency: Improving your speed means you can complete more orders within any given time frame, maximizing your earnings.
- Customer Service: Good service can significantly impact your tips and ratings. Make sure you communicate well, be polite, and meet customer expectations.
- Improve Your Rating: When two shoppers are waiting for the orders in the same parking lot, the Instacart algorithm will first send the better order to the shopper with a better rating. So, getting those ratings up by providing top-notch service directly impacts your bottom line.
- Track Your Mileage: You can save hundreds in taxes by deducting your mileage expenses. However, Instacart does not track your mileage, so you need to do it yourself either manually or through apps like Evernote.
- Diversify your Income: When Instacart is slow, consider other gigs like DoorDash, Uber Eats, or different types of work like dog walking on Rover or online tasks via platforms like TaskRabbit or Fiverr.
By understanding what time does Instacart start getting busy, to what time does Instacart stop delivering, and all these Instacart tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to maximizing your income potential as an Instacart shopper.
Extra Reading: Does Instacart Pay For Gas?
Pros and Cons of Working Different Times
Each time slot has its benefits and downsides:
- Weekends: Busiest days with the most orders but also the most challenging in terms of parking and store crowds.
- Weekdays: Less busy, meaning fewer orders, but you can work more comfortably and perhaps more efficiently.
- Mornings: A good time to work if you’re an early riser, but there could be fewer batches.
- Afternoons: Generally slower, but it also means less stress in fulfilling orders.
- Evenings: Busy, especially after people get off work, but that means traffic and spending less time with your family.
Here is a video of shopper doing early morning drops.
So, When Does Instacart Batches Start?
So, in a nutshell, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to questions like “what time does Instacart start” or “what time do Instacart orders start for shoppers”.
Though as we discussed most markets seem to agree for around 8 a.m. However, at the end of the day, everyone needs to figure out their markets for when Instacart batches start in the morning that are worth the effort.
By being strategic and informed, you can make the most out of your Instacart shopping experience.
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Sumeet is a Certified Financial Education Instructor℠ (CFEI®) and founder of MoneyFromSideHustle. He is an experienced side hustler who replaced his full-time income with side hustles. His work has been quoted on major finance websites like CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, GOBankingRates, MSN, Nasdaq, AOL, and more. He has helped thousands of people find side hustles and is here to help you find your extra source of income. More about him.