How the $%#@ can life change so quickly? Not that long ago, I was doing a shopping spree at our local mall, shelling out cash for my kids’ birthday party.  Now, barely 3 weeks later, I am pretty much overwhelmed with how everything has changed. And shopping has been hit hard.

I’ve been pretty much home isolating for the last week but ventured out to our local shopping mall on the weekend to get essentials and I was shocked by how rapidly our world has nose dived into Corona-crisis. I’m left wondering whether it will ever go back to what it was before.

Here’s how I think shopping has changed during this pandemic:

1) Ghost-town malls

Each day, we get news of more retail shops closing down. Last week it was Smiggle, Peter Alexander and heaps more, with thousands of staff being stood down. It was like being in an alternate reality seeing every second store in the mall tightly shut. It felt as I was wandering through some shopping centre hit by armageddon. I don’t think it will be long before major stores like Kmart, Big W and Target are forced to close and then the shopping centres will be deader than dead.

2) Packing your own bags

On the weekend at Coles, a lady loaded her goods on the conveyor belt and as normal, waited for the cashier to pack her bags. But nothing happened. The pile of groceries grew in a heap in the packing area and when I gently mentioned that apparently we are supposed to pack our own bags, she was so embarrassed. It wasn’t her fault – things are changing everyday. Packing our own bags is yet another initiative introduced by the supermarkets to protect their staff from catching COVID-19. But after being spoilt for so long with having our bags packed for us, it takes a little getting used to doing it ourselves. And it actually takes some skill to do it properly (don’t pack the hot roast chicken with the yoghurt!). I wonder if this is one of the changes that will stick well after the virus has dissipated.

3) Attendants to wipe down trolleys

At the supermarket, there was a roll of disinfectant trolley wipes. Plus there was actually a staff member who offered to wipe down trolley handle.

4) Empty shelves

There are still empty shelves in the supermarkets. Before the virus, you never saw empty shelves in the supermarket. It just never happened. Maybe there could be one product out of stock but never ever a whole shelf of it. Seeing empty shelves in the supermarket is depressing – makes me feel like we’re living in a third world country rather than a first world one. I wonder how long it will take for our supermarkets to catch up?

5) No pick your own

A mere few weeks ago, there were cabinets of freshly baked bread in the supermarkets and all you needed to do was grab a pair of tongs and a bag and take your pick of your baked goods. And how about those pick and mix walls. Well, these are a BIG NO NO now! There is absolutely no pick your own now. Personally, I think that this is a great change – I always thought those pick-your-own things were totally unhygienic. Who knows whose dirty paws were on that coveted crusty loaf of bread before you unwittingly put it into your bag. That would be a good change in my mind.

6) Toilet paper wars

Who would have ever predicted that there would be punch-ups over toilet paper, sanitiser and antibacterial wipes? This Coronavirus crisis has really bought out the worst in us. It’s been a case of survival of the fittest – or most aggressive – as shoppers have spat, punched and kicked their way to get the last roll of toilet paper. There’s also been so much greed where people have loaded up their trolleys with the most wanted items and not leaving anything for anyone else. Just awful behaviour.  I’ve found though that people are still stressed but are generally behaving more considerately now after the initial burst of fear and hoarding.

toilet paper restriction

7) Restrictions on products

Due to consumer hoarding behaviour, supermarkets have hit back by restricting how many items each person can buy. This changes on a daily basis too. But basically, there’s a limit of one toilet paper package, two packs of flour and two boxes of tissues. There are more items being added to the restricted list every day. At this point, I can’t even imagine going to the shops and being blase about what I buy.

8) Credit cards are king

Cash is germ-ridden so most outlets are encouraging shoppers to ditch the notes and coins and use debit or credit cards instead. Even when you do tap and go, it’s recommended that you don’t make contact with the credit card machine, but rather hover over it instead so not evil germs can spread to your card.

9) Long queues at checkout

With social distancing rules strictly in place, going to a busy store like Kmart or BigW is a massive challenge. There are still people everywhere and I found myself swerving around shoppers coming towards me as if they were about to zap me. And let’s talk about the checkout queue. Every person in the line had to keep a 1.5 metre distance from eachother, which meant that the queue in Kmart snaked around the entire store. In addition, there were no assisted checkouts in Kmart so the queue took much longer as people struggled with the very user-unfriendly Kmart self-checkout machines.

10) Masks and gloves everywhere

If I had seen a photo a few months ago of what shoppers in the mall looked like on the weekend, I would have freaked out big time. Oh my goodness. There were so many people wearing all kinds of masks and gloves. It looked like everyone had escaped from some kind of hospital. Of course, this is survival now but it’s still odd.

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11) Keep away!

There is no dilly-dallying around in the shops, no long coffee or neighbourly chats. I was laser focused and my mission was to get in and out of the mall as soon as possible. Most people gave off an air of ‘Keep Away’ from me. I personally was a bit paranoid that some crazy loon would sneeze or cough in my face so I tried to come off as prickly as possible. Don’t come near me!

12) No kids’ rides or play areas

If you would have told me a few weeks ago that the play area within the mall would be closed and those annoying coin operated rides would be shut down, I would have been shocked! How would you even contemplate going to a mall with your little ones without these things to keep them (and you) from going crazy. I guess the only consolation is that we’re not taking our kids shopping anymore so we don’t really need them for the moment.

13) No home delivery or click and collect

This for me has been my BIGGEST bugbear out of the whole damned virus! Pretty early on in the process, Woolworths and Coles made some massive changes to help out the elderly and the vulnerable. This included cancelling click & collect and delivery and opening early exclusively for people who needed it most. But what about families? I have five hungry mouths to feed and no way to get my groceries – except to brave the germ ridden outside world. I’ve been trying to secure a home delivery slot for two weeks now and there’s just nothing! So frustrating!

14) Contactless delivery

If you do happen to secure a delivery slot, gone are the days where the delivery driver will drop your bags on the bench and even unpack your groceries for you. No way, Jose! Now, the delivery driver will drop your bags outside your door and you will need to lug them inside and unpack them yourself! You don’t even have to sign for your order and the drivers definitely do not take any empty bags away to recycle.

16) Going shopping is a MAJOR process!

These days you have to go through a whole sanitation rigmarole to go shopping. You have to disinfect your hands, wear gloves, put on your mask and disinfect the trolley and wipe every item you put in the trolley.

After the shop, you need to remove your gloves and throw them in the bin at the shopping centre, wipe your hands with an anti-bacterial wipe, wipe your phone and steering wheel etc etc.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it. I can’t imagine a time (only 2 or 3 weeks ago) when we actually went out without a care!

Tell us how shopping has changed for you in the comments below.

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  • I think it taught us to be thankful for our lives and all we have in them. There are so many things that we just take for granted.


  • And jst when you think it’s normalising – panic buying is back!


  • I shop only when I have to and make sure to wash my hands


  • I don’t take any household essentials for granted now! I know there is generally enough for everyone but people are still buying more than they need and it’s really unfair.


  • It’s a bit scary but we are doing it out of love – to protect the vulnerable in our community


  • I think everybody will be. It’s a scary time. It will be lovely to be able to think about the future again.


  • Have been told by our doctor that we have to isolate and get all our food etc delivered. Will try Coles new Online service this week and hope for the best – doctor is calling to our house to give injections and check on us and we phone him for prescriptions and he gets them to us and our chemist home delivers on demand. We do try to go out for a short walk each day and do a lot of gardening so we aren’t confined inside all the time. I will miss being able to go shopping to my supermarket and picking my own goods – I mainly buy fresh food so like to pick it myself. Another friend brings our meat from the butchers – but I will be so happy when this is all over.


  • I was lucky as I’d just done my usual monthly shopping when things changed. I’ve noticed that a lot of what I used to buy has gone up in price at our local store which was already more expensive than other stores. That was when I started shopping monthly out of our small country town.


  • I also have to shop for my elderly Father who just eats certain types of food which is impossible to get for him so have to go to a few shops just to get all his grocerys


  • I am actually spending a lot more than usual, as I can’t find the usual cheap brands I buy, so I am obliged to buy more expensive ones.
    Very difficult for new mums too. I am sure they would have preferred to order online for delivery at home, instead of having to go out of the house with their baby.


  • Agree with all of the above. Shopping is now and in-and-out process, trying to remember to sanitize, clean and wipe, stay apart, pack your own, etc. I have a list for shopping tomorrow and I will head off with my enviro bags to get in and out as quick as I can with all I’m able to grab from the shelves. No impulse buys or browsing, just getting what’s on my list. It means I’m saving money and not spending as much!!


  • Just saw on the news it is not proven that COVID19 stays on money and there is no fear of using it. As a lot of the elderly won’t use cards. Government said it is still legal tender.


  • It’s actually quite scary. And the process in changing week by week!


  • Everyone try to do their best for safety and health.


  • Strange times indeed, but we just need to exercise good hygiene practices and learn to adjust.
    Please be nice to the supermarket attendants. My sister in law works at Woolworths and her and her staff have copped abuse. They’re just enforcing company/ government rules. Play fair out there people.


  • I just think we need to be thankful if you and your family are healthy then a bit of change in how we shop is the least of our worries.


  • Life has changed so we should just need to adjust.


  • I have a 2 month old and iflts made things extremely difficult. Whilst everyone else has just begun social distancing I have pretty much been there since christmas! Stocking up on the essentials and potentially exposing my baby to the virus is beyond annoying.


  • I’ve found shopping really stressful recently so I’m trying to limit the amount of times I need to go.


  • The restriction on products is probably necessary but it’s kind of complicating my life. In particular with milk, because you can just buy 2 litres at the time. That means that I need to go shopping more often than usual!


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