SAN FRANCISCO – Until at least April 7, San Franciso and Bay Area residents in northern California are living under a shelter in place law that mandates individuals to stay at home except for essential needs. Anyone who breaks the law may be charged with a misdemeanor crime. 

Across the entire state of California starting today, March 20, all residents of the state are under a ‘stay-at-home’ order. California Governor Gavin Newsom said that at this time, the order will not be enforced by law, but he asked citizens to do the right thing and stay home.  

So far, San Francisco is the only city in the US to enact a mandatory shelter in place law in response to coronavirus (COVID-19). But on March 17, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned residents that a similar law for the city may be announced soon. As COVID-19 spreads, its likely more cities will follow suit in requiring citizens to stay in their homes. 

During northern California’s shelter-in-place mandate residents can leave their homes for essential activities like grocery shopping, but online grocer Farmstead has seen an extreme amount of order growth since the law went into effect earlier this week.  

“Three weeks ago, when COVID-19 first hit California, [orders] jumped to 40 percent week-over-week growth. The following week, our growth was 50 percent week-over-week growth over that. This past week, Farmstead’s week over week growth was 70 percent,” said Pradeep Elankumaran, chief executive officer and co-founder of Farmstead. “We are hiring rapidly – primarily warehouse workers and delivery people – to keep up with demand. We’ll probably double our staff in March.” 

Since Farmstead is online only, customers order through the company’s website or app and choose a grocery delivery window. Pradeep said that process has remained the same, but the company has had to halt bulk orders in response to COVID-19. 

The grocer is better positioned to handle high-demand items going out of stock. Because of its online format, Farmstead is able to keep track of when customers click on things that are out of stock, which helps the company better predict what items to stock more of in the future. 

Because of the shelter in place law, all of Farmstead’s deliveries are mandated to be non-contact. Delivery associates leave bags outside customers’ doors and leave. Customers then receive an alert after the delivery has been dropped. 

For grocers that anticipate their own cities may enact shelter-in-place-like mandates, Pradeep suggests placing strengthened measures to ensure high-demand items are kept in stock, and to prepare for non-contact delivery.