Grocery Shopping in a Pandemic

This article article is part of an ongoing series of life in the Pandemic 2020

By Dave Price (4/04)

As recently as two months ago, if my wife had said we were going grocery shopping at 6, I would have said fine. We’ll do that and then come home and fix dinner.

Today, we did go grocery shopping at 6. But it was 6 a.m., not 6 p.m. And why, when I have always been a night person, would I go shopping at that absurdly early hour, you ask? Well, you can chalk it up to another change in our new normal world prompted by Covid-19.

Last week, the Harris Teeter where we shop announced the store would be opening from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. for seniors only on Mondays and Thursdays. That way, those of us in the age group identified as most at risk from serious, sometimes fatal consequences from the virus could shop when the store was less crowded.

So far, at least, Judy and I continue to go once a week for groceries. Now a lot of people have opted for home delivery or curbside pickup, but I’ve never minded grocery shopping and it is the only outing of the week where we actually get to see some people other than when we take our daily exercise walks.

So what is it like 65-and-over grocery shopping at 6 a.m.?

Here are some of the highlights:

Outside the store, there were both wiping cloths and sanitizer to take care of your grocery cart before you entered. There was a clerk there if you needed help.

There was a total of 10 customers in the store, 3 couples and 4 single shoppers. It’s the only time I’ve been in Harris Teeter when the workers outnumbered the customers.

The clerks in our store are always friendly and helpful, but they were especially so today.

Everyone shopping kept their distance as recommended with social distancing guidelines.

We were behind one couple in the checkout line. Soon, two single shoppers were standing behind us. Quickly, a second clerk opened a register so the line could be reduced.

The biggest change in shopping from last week concerned bagging. For more than 25 years, we have been taking cloth bags to the grocery store as part of our concern for the environment. At Harris Teeter, it had been standard that the clerks would bag for us. Today, however, that policy was no longer in effect. Customers were expected to do their own bagging, which Judy and I did with no problem.

Now the focus recently has been on what items stores do not have. But being inquisitive by nature and occupation, I have been checking out what appears not to be moving. And I feel safe in saying that one such item appears to be cream of asparagus soup. Each time we have visited the store, there have been 16 cans of that soup on the shelves, compared to the absence or scarcity of more popular soups like chicken noodle or tomato.

That was true today. The count stood at 0 cans of tomato soup, 4 cans of chicken noodle and 16 cans of cream of asparagus. I guess most people just don’t find cream of asparagus soup “mmm mmm good” and I know I am at the top of that list.

Overall, except for having to get out of bed at 5:30 a.m. (I mean who even knew there was a 5:30 a.m.?), our shopping excursion went well. We were back at our apartment complex with our groceries by 7:10. By 7:30 they were put away. 

But our adventure did leave me with one question. Do you think 8 a.m. is too early for a nap?

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