Publix discontinues online shopping option

Publix is ending a pilot program that allowed shoppers at two metro Atlanta stores to order their groceries online, then pick them up without leaving their cars.

Publix Curbside had some loyal customers, spokeswoman Brenda Reid said, but not enough users to expand the program. In addition to being available at the Toco Hills and Brookhaven stores, it was being tested at a store in Tampa.

Reid said the company learned that people like to see and touch their groceries. Some shoppers, after all, prefer green bananas while others like them ripe.

No employees will lose their jobs with the program's termination and Publix will look to sub-lease the 500-square-foot-plus building at the Brookhaven store that was used for Curbside. At Toco Hills, the Curbside area will be reabsorbed into the store.

This is the second time Publix has experimented with online grocery shopping. Publix Direct, which was tested in Miami from 2001 to 2003, was a traditional delivery service.

Reid said she did not know if Publix would continue to experiment with online grocery sales.

"Because of the industry and how competitive the grocery business is, you have to be willing to take risks," she said.

The program had been operational for more than a year. Customers paid $7.99 to order their groceries online.

The last day for orders will be Jan. 27 and, for pick-ups, Jan. 28.