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Amazon and Whole Foods to put squeeze on local grocers

Area neighborhood grocery stores have a new competitor to contend with.

The Kansas City Business Journal reports that Amazon is expanding its Prime Now grocery delivery service Wednesday to 10 new cities, including Kansas City. The service allows Amazon Prime members to order items from Whole Foods via the Prime Now app and have them delivered to their homes in an hour for $7.99. There’s also free two-hour delivery on orders of at least $35. Grocery delivery is available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The service will span from Lake Waukomis to Grandview and Shawnee to Lee’s Summit, Tanvi Patel, head of business development for Prime Now, said in a release.

The area’s newest Whole Foods opened in May in Kansas City as part of a mixed-use project called Brookside 51, which was developed by VanTrust Real Estate LLC. The other area stores are in Overland Park and Olathe.

Other cities included in the latest Prime Now expansion are Albuquerque, N.M.; Birmingham, Ala.; Boise, Idaho; Charleston, S.C.; Colorado Springs; Hartford and Stamford, Conn.; Providence, R.I.; and Salt Lake City, as well as additional areas in Boston and Cincinnati. Amazon also announced that it expanded curbside pickup to six new cities.

In September, Amazon expanded Prime Now to 10 additional cities, including St. Louis. The grocery delivery service is now available in 63 cities, and Amazon plans to continue expanding its geographic reach throughout 2018.

Some consumer watchdogs wonder how the expansion, coupled with a possible increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, will affect food prices. Shoppers may have already noticed that most grocery retailers are short staffed as stores attempt to keep costs low by reducing labor expenses.