Earning six figures for grocery delivery?


With students returning to school this week, teachers may not need another reason to be a little down. But here’s one: Reports from a Florida TV station and the Money magazine website say a former Orlando-area educator is now earning $100,000 a year delivering groceries.

Ed Hennessey had been a teacher for 20 years but formally retired three months ago to be an independent contractor for Shipt, an online grocery service owned by Target Corp.

Hennessey said his heart is in teaching, but he has doubled his pay since becoming a Shipt shopper. He’s making grocery runs 50 to 60 hours a week, enjoys the extra money and being able to get out and about.

Shipt is based in Birmingham, Ala., and provides service in about 170 cities.

In Mississippi, it’s only available in Jackson and a couple of other large areas.

Still, the story is noteworthy because it’s an example of how the evolving economy is creating new jobs that are disrupting traditional employment.

The Shipt website says its shoppers typically make between $16 and $22 per hour. They get paid per delivery and keep all tips. Up to 70 percent of Shipt customers tip their delivery people, who even put the groceries away when they get to a customer’s home.

A little math indicates that if Hennessey is earning six figures, he is an unusually productive worker.

Multiplying Shipt’s top figure of $22 per hour by 55 hours for the midrange of Hennessey’s work week produces a weekly income of $1,210.

Multiply that by 52 weeks for a whole year and you get annual pay of about $63,000. Which is a far cry from $100,000.

Keep in mind also that as an independent contractor, Hennessey is responsible for his own expenses, such as gasoline for his vehicle.

If he is shopping and delivering 55 hours per week, Hennessey must earn nearly $35 per hour.

Either he’s making a lot more stops each day than the average Shipt shopper — he says his record is 22 — or he’s getting incredible tips from customers who are grateful that they don’t have to make a trip to the grocery store.

The Money website story used Hennessey’s experience to point out that while many educators are well paid — the average public school teacher earns $60,000 a year, though it’s significantly lower in Mississippi — the salaries may not be keeping up with the times.

Teacher pay seems competitive when you consider that they work only nine or 10 months per year and get excellent medical insurance and retirement benefits. But that does not take into account other expenses.

Hennessey said the costs of raising children, along with the need to repay student loans, ultimately forced him to abandon the classroom.

That’s the concern: How many other trained professionals enjoy what they do but will be encouraged to try something different by the digital economy, which is still in its infancy?

That question cannot yet be answered, but the transformation is bound to be fascinating.