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.
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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.
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.
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.