Are Shoppers Going To Stop Going To The Grocery Store?

The Lempert Report
January 29, 2021

Supermarkets can respond proactively through a variety of solutions

It’s a question that was posed last week in the online publication Vox, and if more media follows suite, our supermarket industry may be hurt. “Shopping for five minutes in the grocery store is a lot better — six times better — than shopping for 30 minutes,” said Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Vox, since the odds of becoming infected rise the longer you’re exposed. “Picking up groceries at the curbside is even better, and having them delivered is even better still.”

Why all this new attention on grocery shopping? According to health professionals including Dr. Fauci, it is all about the new, more contagious variants that we are seeing in Brazil, the UK, South Africa and here in 10 states in the US. The CDC reports that it expects this variant B.1.1.7 to be the most prevalent by March and that it can infect 30-70 percent more people and in a shorter time, hence Frieden’s comments. Supermarkets can respond proactively by speeding up checkout times, urging shoppers to use their mobile devices to check out and avoid the cashier, obviously urge curbside pick-up and delivery (and offer financial incentives or rewards to do so) – it is time to shout these improvements from the rooftops, before these stories become pervasive.

Supermarkets should also be selling, or giving away, better masks. While most people have gravitated to spiffier more fashionable and more comfortable cloth masks – we are seeing more reports daily urging people to either replace them with N95 masks which are now back in high volume production and available on sites like Amazon for the general population or to double mask and put a paper mask over your cloth mask. Frieden told Vox that when it comes to avoiding an infection, “a surgical mask is better than a cloth mask, a tight-fitting surgical mask is better than a loose-fitting mask, and an N95 is better than a surgical mask.” In Austria the government is giving FFP2 masks, the European equivalent to our N95 masks to people over 65 years old. In Germany has mandated FFP2 masks on public transportation and in stores. It’s just another opportunity for our supermarket companies to take the lead and show our shoppers that we truly are the community leaders.