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The pandemic has changed the way we shop at the grocery store

2nd March 2021 Print

When a working vaccine is finally developed for Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) and the pandemic is less of a threat, we may well look back on this period as one of the most significant, life-changing periods of our lives. Considering how the pandemic has had an impact on almost every facet of our lives, this is hardly an overstatement. Apart from sickness and death, the pandemic has impacted how we work, how we play and how we learn. It has also changed how we attack even the most mundane tasks, such as grocery shopping. Shopping for groceries presents unique challenges, however the nature of the task exposes us to dangers like never before. Here are four ways the pandemic has changed how we shop at the grocery store. 

Online shopping - One of the major changes brought by the pandemic is the question of where and how we purchase our groceries. Although non-essential workers could stay home, when it came to grocery workers, including grocery delivery in NY, Governor Andrew Cuomo labeled them essential workers. Shopping in person at a store can be risky since close contact with too many people tends to increase the risk of contracting the virus. For this reason, more grocery stores have been offering online shopping and delivery services which can help shoppers avoid the in-store experience. And business is booming Mercato founder Bobby Brannigan related that customers have been “ripping down our door to get deliveries and they’re buying as much as they can”. 

Safer Shopping - For those who prefer to purchase their groceries in store, making the environment safer for all meant putting measures in place. Shoppers are now required to wear masks, keep six feet away from each other and sanitize their hands before entering the store. Stores also check your temperature before allowing you to enter so as to restrict entry to those who may be exhibiting symptoms. Stores also now make an effort to keep counters, surfaces and shopping carts sanitized for users. They have also been encouraged to limit the number of shoppers allowed into the store at any one time. 

We shop alone - Grocery delivery used to be a family affair. However, the pandemic has changed this. Now with the risk of infection high and with stores wishing to keep the number of in-store shoppers low, grocery shopping is now as much as possible a solo affair. After all, grocery shopping in the midst of a pandemic is already stressful. With children tagging along, it can be a nightmare. Keeping track of the surfaces you touch and whether or not you touch your face is already difficult, but even more so is making sure children don’t touch contaminated surfaces. Store congestion also becomes a larger issue with family members tagging along.

Unpackaged food is better stored - Before the pandemic began, grocery stores were less careful about how food was stored. Storage conditions were by no means unsanitary but it would never be kept or displayed like this during the pandemic. Now, grocery stores make a bigger effort at storing its baked goods where there is less exposure to passing customers. Additionally, whereas in-store sampling was a big part of the shopping experience. Now, samples are limited to prepackaged foods that can be handled in a more sanitary fashion.

While the pandemic has revolutionized how we tackle our grocery shopping, there is no indication how long these changes will last. Although this period may be remembered as one of the most transformative periods of our lives, changes can sometimes be short-lived once normalcy resumes. Yet, the people who have lived through the pandemic will be changed forever and grocery shopping will last, despite what form it takes.

Guest Writer – Hemant Kumar Gupta