Published 27 March 2020
Food retail businesses are seeing an increase in traffic, as the general public attempts to navigate buying groceries during a global pandemic. Food retail stores, and the food industry as a whole, will probably never be the same again.
March 27, 2020 — As the number of COVID-19 cases increases daily, many food businesses have been instructed to close their doors temporarily to the public across Canada. On the other hand, food retail businesses are seeing an increase in foot traffic, as the general public attempts to navigate what buying groceries and household items looks like during a global pandemic. One food industry expert has weighed in on the current crisis, claiming that the food retail stores, and the food industry as a whole, will probably not be the same once the pandemic passes.
Sylvain Charlebois, who is a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, has indicated that the public has resorted to panic buying because they “have lost the ability to plan in advance and just don’t know what two weeks of food looks like.” This panic buying has led to large gaps in stock on grocery store shelves, particularly for toilet paper, cleaning items, dried pasta and canned goods.
In the midst of all of this, grocery stores and supermarkets are holding steady, trying to maintain business as usual and replace stock as quickly as possible. This extra effort is combined with implementing new cleaning and sanitizing protocols and personal hygiene standards to keep staff and customers safe from contracting COVID-19 and trying to stop its spread.
“What’s happening now is nothing short of a miracle,” said Charlebois. Food retail stores are staying abreast of all the changes while dealing with increased demand as people stop eating out as much and are making most meals at home.
Charlebois also states that changes that have been implemented in groceries stores during the COVID-19 pandemic, could be here to stay for the long haul. Changes like plexiglass barriers at checkouts, higher wages for food retail employees and immaculately cleaned stores could all become the new standard after the pandemic. Food retail businesses should asses what changes they have made, and how well they are working during the current situation. Once the spread of COVID-19 begins to cease, food businesses can determine what changes they would like to make permanent going forward.