The Evolution of Shopping


Larissa Pothoven, Editor

A lot has changed since the emergence of COVID-19, including shopping.  The mundane task of going to the grocery store has seen some drastic renovations.

People were crazy at first, stocking up on paper products such as toilet paper and paper towels.  They also bought an abundance of cleaning supplies.  The stores were busy, and not too many people were concerned with wearing masks.

After the initial wave of panic went down, the amount of people in stores lessened significantly.  I have only been to the store three times since quarantine began.  It’s kind of surreal; seeing all the people in masks.  Everyone looks down, avoiding eye contact with each other, as if not looking at someone can help save them from the virus.

My mom goes grocery shopping once a week for our family of six.  She wears different shoes to the store than she does for going outside on our daily walks.  She uses hand sanitizer when she gets back to the car from the store, then washes her hands as soon as she gets home.  She also makes sure that she takes her shoes off outside when she comes home, then carries them down to the basement to quarantine.  My family washes our groceries or quarantines them in the basement for three days.

Stores now have one-way aisles to help cut down on traffic.  Customers are unable to bring their own reusable shopping bags into stores, but they can ask baggers to put their groceries directly in the cart instead of putting them in plastic bags.  Then, the customer can put their items into reusable bags when they get to their vehicle.

A few new additions include employees sanitizing handles of shopping carts before customers take them and plexiglass placed between the cashier and customer.  Only one person can put their groceries on the belt at a time, since employees clean the conveyor belt between every customer.  So, dividers are no longer used.  There are also dots on the floor for customers to stand on, so they can make sure that they are six feet away from others when standing in line.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker required people to wear masks inside businesses starting May 1st.  Previously, the percentage of people wearing masks was about 50/50.  Some stores are turning away those who show up without face coverings.  Others are not enforcing the rule.

Stores limit the number of people allowed inside.  If the number is maxed out, people must wait outside until someone exits the store.  Stores also have certain shopping hours exclusive to the elderly, pregnant women, and immunocompromised citizens.  Only one person per family is supposed to shop at a time.

Many people have turned to delivery or curbside pick-up for their items.  That way, they can order online and then can receive their groceries without ever having to leave their house or car.

Some stores have put limits on food and other products, including bread, eggs, milk, meat, toilet paper, tissues, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes.  Stores are also having to deal with shortages.  Yeast, Swiffer wet wipes, flour, sugar, and Jell-O have been scarce at times.  Often, customers can buy toilet paper in individual rolls, although there is still a limit of the number of rolls.

People question how long these changes will last, and if these are going to be permanent changes.  For now, we should avoid going to the store unless necessary, and wear our masks.