When was the last time you visited the store in search of toilet paper? How about hand sanitizer or Vitamin C? Did you notice that the shelves were empty, and an online search didn’t yield much luck? Or maybe you recently wanted to cook spaghetti but couldn’t because the usually abundant supply of pasta products is now depleted?
These are just a few items that are difficult to find nowadays. The culprit: panic buying. But this pattern began a month or so before the social distancing guidelines and shelter in place orders were rolled out.
As more and more information surfaced about COVID-19 and the potential devastation on the economy, the items many deemed essential flew off the shelves. Canned goods also became a hot commodity along with other non-perishable foods, milk baby formula, diapers, wipes, soaps, lotions and feminine hygiene products.
Unfortunately, panic buying has caused retailers to implement purchasing restrictions to remedy the problem. This allows more consumers to get their hands on much-needed products without having to arrive at the stores on the days that shipments arrive in the wee hours of the morning.
If you visit the local big-box retailer or grocer, you may find that they’ve imposed purchasing limits on select items to deal with the shortages. Some stores only allow you to buy two to four of a single item per day. These restrictions have appeared on many items, including:
- Baby diapers and formula
- Bottled water
- Canned goods
- Cooked and fresh meat products
- Disinfecting wipes and spray
- Dried beans
- Facial tissue
- Hand soap and body wash
- Paper towels
- Rubbing alcohol
- Toilet paper
Is Amazon a Viable Alternative?
Have you tried heading online to get what you need from Amazon? They’ve also limited shipments to ensure the timely delivery of essential products. Wondering if your order is deemed essential?
If you’re expecting household staples, medical supplies or other popular high-demand products, you may be in luck. Otherwise, your order may be delayed. The good news is Amazon continues to roll out an expanded list of items each day that are eligible for immediate shipment.
COVID-19 Smart Shopping Tips
Here are some useful tips to help you shop smarter during COVID-19:
- Visit stores when they open. Often, suppliers deliver goods in the morning. If you arrive before the foot traffic picks up, you can have first dibs on the items you need.
- Shop during non-peak hours. Early mornings and evenings before closing time can be a great time to shop. Check with your local store on adjusted hours and make sure you are not arriving during senior shopping time.
- Use a grocery delivery service. This allows you to avoid the panic-stricken crowds and get what you need delivered to your doorstep.
- Try curbside pickup. Grocery delivery services not quite working out for you? Curbside pickup is another viable alternative to minimize contact with others, stay safe and get what you need without dealing with crowds.
- Wear a mask. The last thing you want to do is get sick or spread germs to others while in the grocery store. If possible, wear a mask to protect yourself and others. Don’t forget to keep your hands away from your face, and wash them when you return to your home.
- Dispose of gloves in the garbage. Photos have circulated online of used gloves lying on the ground. They belong in the garbage can, so do your part to reduce the transmission of germs to those individuals who pick up trash and keep the roadways clean.
- Now is not the time to make frequent trips to the grocery store. Make a list of before heading out, and you’ll spend less time strolling the aisles. Be mindful of the space you have in your kitchen to store food.
- Use your eyes to choose what you need. While you may be used to picking up items to check ingredients or carefully examine your produce, it’s not really acceptable anymore. Only handle items you intend to buy.
- Don’t forget to sanitize your fruits and vegetables. Vinegar and water do the trick if you want to ensure your vegetables are germ-free before ingesting them.
Shopping With a Plan
While your normal grocery shopping habits have changed drastically, but remember we are all in this together. By using the tips above you can shop smarter and and safer.
Most importantly, don’t hoard items you don’t actually need. During this trying time, you should be mindful of others in your community when shopping. They need the essentials just as much do. Plus, hoarding leads to waste when you buy excessive items you won’t be able to use before they expire.