How can we be better shoppers during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Grocery stores have changed their businesses and hours in order to accommodate the COVID-19 outbreak and the effects of coronavirus panic buying. Popular grocery stores have highlighted the changes in their businesses amidst this unprecedented pandemic.

As the number of coronavirus cases continue to increase in both Illinois and the nation, people have hastily rushed to buy an unsustainable volume of groceries and an exorbitant amount of toilet paper. COVID-19, which has been at the center of most national and local headlines, has led to vast changes in society and the economy. Among these changes is a coronavirus related panic buying spree, which has caused an increase in demand for various goods and a decrease in supply due to the unbalanced shift in the supply and demand chain. Grocery stores have had a resulting shortage of stock, further amplifying the pandemonium.

This brings into question the merit of excessive stockpiling as a means of welfare and precaution. Venturing into stores even when there is no immediate necessity for such proves only to be more harmful to individuals as opposed to a form of caution. This can put workers and other customers, along with yourself, at a higher risk of infection. If a trip is non-essential, it should not be made.

Further, panic buying only accelerates the uncertainty of this situation as grocery stores and workers must now deal with the shortage of commodities for their customers. It creates chaos and prevents individuals with the immediate demand for these rapidly-bought products from purchasing these items. As the coronavirus plagues our comfort, safety and health in this erratic period, it is more important to remain kind and keep an open mind about the needs of others than ever before.

However, workers’ jobs have nonetheless been affected as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. After researching a few grocery stores, the most prominent change noted is the change in store hours and a shift to limited quantity purchasing.

Additionally, grocery stores have had to take preventative measures to ensure a safe store environment and continued functionality. The local Barrington Jewel Osco, located at 150 W Main St, has set up glass dividers at the checkout aisles. The store also writes on their website,

“We’ve set aside store hours for your local Jewel-Osco from 7:00 am to 9:00 am every Tuesday and Thursday. The set hours are available for senior citizens, and other at-risk members of our community such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.”

Jewel Osco also limits the quantity of highly demanded items, such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other household products. Additionally, they continue to offer grocery/pharmacy delivery and drive-up and go services.

Costco Warehouses have updated their store hours, as they now close at 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and at 6:00 p.m. on weekends. Their gas stations close at 7:00 p.m. on weekdays and at 6:30 on weekends. Further, their pharmacies will remain open during store hours and the food court will stay closed. In addition, Costco only allows for two members to enter the warehouse per membership card.

Heinen’s, a local grocery store, will be remaining open throughout this time. Their hours are temporarily modified to 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays. Between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m., Heinen’s is leaving a window for senior citizens. They are working very hard to restock on essentials. Heinen’s is encouraging social distancing and is enforcing an occupancy limit in stores depending on the size.

As customers, we are also held accountable for the functionality of grocery stores, especially now. The utmost importance is for shoppers to be kind, grateful, and appreciative of workers who don’t have the luxury of social distancing. Our job is to make their ability to help us as efficient and easy as possible. Be a smart shopper, as well. Try to limit your grocery store visits to as few as possible. Workers may not be able to social distance to the best of their ability, but you can. When you do need to make your trips, go prepared with a large list; do not spend avoidable amounts of time strolling through aisles. Stocking up on groceries is not a leisure activity.

Moreover, make sure to show your appreciation to the workers who are there helping you stay safe. They deserve our respect and gratitude for everything that they continue to do.