There are mostly only two kinds of shopping now – online shopping and food shopping. For most of us unable to get a supermarket delivery slot (and it is quite right that these are being reserved for those shielding) the occasional necessary outing to a supermarket or other food shop is our only excursion beyond our daily exercise walk. But what a different experience it is now!
My pre-epidemic routine was something like once every 3 weeks to Sainsburys in Tadley, in between which a trip to Lidl on the Bath Road and picking up milk and oddments at Budgens. Oh and a very occasional trip to Costco to stock up on, among a few other things, the famous toilets rolls! As it became clear that things were getting difficult, but before lockdown, we did a dash to Costco – they were already out of stock of toilet rolls and dishwasher tablets (luckily we had plenty) but importantly they had sacks of the only dog food our dog will eat – mission accomplished. We also did a quick trip to Dance’s in Beech Hill to stock up on chicken food. We could eat strange concoctions of things in our pantry but the animals needed their regular food.
I’m lucky enough to have a large fridge, large freezer and a walk in pantry so I’m used to being well stocked. And that has certainly come in very useful. Once the lockdown started we didn’t go anywhere to shop for quite some time except getting milk at Budgens. Once the supermarkets gave NHS workers a special shopping slot our daughter was able to shop at Sainsburys weekly at 7:30 am and she left fresh fruit and vegetables on our doorstep. Eventually I decided to do a shop for myself as the number of things I could do with had grown. Following information about when it was busy I went to Sainsburys at about 10am and was greeted by the outside queue snaking right round the shop into the carpark and then doubling back all the way to Mulfords Hill and long that side of the shop. The marshal told me that was about 1 hr 45 minutes queue to get in. I decided not go but got back in the car and drove to Lidl on Bath Rd. The queue there was less than 10 minutes, very well organised with one-out/one-in being enforced and most people inside the shop being careful with social-distancing. The shop was quite well stocked (well, no toilet paper, flour etc) but some things were missing and many were different brands than usual. You could see stock had been put out in a hurry and probably by staff who weren’t the usual once. Things were in odd places, often not matching the shelf edge labels. That added to the slightly eerie feeling of many of the shoppers wearing masks, made me think of shopping abroad where you never quite know what things are, were to find them etc.
Not only is the shopping experience now very different, conversation by phone or with friends I come across on my daily walk have changed. If someone says they have been to shop you ask if there was any flour (the answer is always, no, although apparently Aldi had flour on Thursday this week!) And what was the queue like? And were people observing distancing inside? As time has gone by, most shops are stricter about one person per trolley but not everywhere is practising this to the same degree. I get the impression that people are not choosing where they shop by price to the same extent but are driven by how safe it seems to be and how long it takes to get in.