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Grocery Ratings (Pandemic Edition)

In this week’s grocery ratings, we’ll be looking into some new stores that remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as some stores from last week, but in different locations.The stores will be rated on the basis of overall shopper composure, time spent checking out, and product availability. Each category will be rated on a scale of 1 to 10 with the higher the number, the better the score. The average of these three scores will become the store’s overall “chill rating”.

  1. Costco, San Diego CA: In light of the social distancing recommended by the CDC, this Costco allowed a limited number of shoppers into the store at a time. There were two lines outside the entrance. Costco workers ensured everyone in line was about six feet apart. As people in the first line entered the building, people in the second line were allowed to move into the first line, which was closest to the entrance. Costco employees could be seen with latex gloves on and cleaning the carts with disinfectant spray before they were placed with the rest of the carts that were ready for shoppers to use. The line to get inside the store moved quickly, despite its seemingly long length. One elderly man looked at the line and complained to one of the Costco employees managing the line. “This is ridiculous! Don’t you guys have hours for elderly shoppers?” They did, but not at that particular time. 

Once inside the store, shoppers were allowed to shop like normal. There were hardly any people inside at one time, giving an eerie contrast compared to Costco’s normal bustling atmosphere. However, people inside were calm and took only what they needed, without hoarding. Everything seemed to be in stock. Check out lines were short, despite the fact they looked long because people standing in line had to stand 6 feet apart. Some shoppers wore gloves and masks, but most did not. 

Overall, this Costco earned the following scores:

Shopper Composure: 8

While a majority of shoppers were very calm and waited patiently in the lines, the angry elderly man disrupted the process with his temper towards the Costco employees enforcing social distancing.

Time Spent Checking Out: 9

The less people in the store at a time shortened the lines drastically from their typical length for Costco. As a result, they were very quick to get through.

Product Availability: 10

Costco had nearly everything in stock. By limiting the amount of people in the store at a time, it also limited the collective panic many people shopping at once could bring about. This, along with limiting the quantity of items, such as toilet paper, each person could purchase at one time ensured that there was enough for everyone.

As a result of these scores, the average chill vibe rating for this Costco came out to be 9

  1. Sprouts, San Diego CA: Unlike Costco, there was no need to enforce social distancing at this Sprouts. There was hardly anyone in the store as it was. It was eerie, but beneficial for those shopping as produce and most other items were plentiful. Much of the fresh foods were on sale. Many people were not wearing gloves or masks, but a couple shoppers and employees were. There was plenty of meat, with the exception of eggs, which were completely out. On each cash register there was a sign that stated the store would not be accepting returns on any items for the time being. Despite the emptiness of the store, there seemed to be a lot of people checking out at once. Since many people were buying produce and not every register was open, it took slightly longer than usual to check out.

Overall, this Sprouts earned the following scores:

Shopper Composure: 9

The lack of people in the store was unusual, but served to make a calmer and quieter shopping environment. People were taking their normal items for weekly groceries. Those with gloves and masks shopped quietly with the rest of the people who were without masks and gloves.

Time Spent Checking Out: 7

Despite the lack of people in the store, the lines moved somewhat slow. Many employees were doing tasks such as sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, therefore there were less cashiers helping customers check out.

Product Availability: 8

While most products were in stock, some common items such as eggs were out. Signs explained that it could be indefinite how long out of stock items would remain out of stock because of their unprecedented demand during the initial consumer splurge sponsored by the pandemic.

The overall chill vibe ratings for this store was a 8

  1. Target, San Diego CA: This particular target used the same sanitation practices as Costco by having employees wipe down carts before putting them back out for the customers to use. The target seemed to have only slightly less people than normal. However, shoppers seemed unphased by the pandemic. Many families were out shopping together with their children dancing and jumping around (probably thankful to be out of the house), blissfully unaware of the world’s concerns. Items that were initially in high demand just last week were readily available due to Target’s new corona policy of limiting the number of high demand items per household. The number varied depending on the item. For example, each household was allowed one jug of laundry detergent, but were allowed two different bags of sliced bread. Water bottles were even on sale, where as a week or two prior they would have been snatched up the moment they hit the shelves. Most items were in stock, including soaps and frozen foods. Canned items were present, but definitely depleted to an extent. It was somewhat difficult to tell what kind of inventory they had in the food section, as that section of the store was under construction unrelated to the virus.

Markings were placed on the ground in front of each cash register, indicating where each person had to stand in line in order to remain six feet away from the people in front and behind them. The self checkout remained open as well, but social distancing was still enforced by an overseeing employee. 

Overall, this Target received the following scores:

Shopper Composure: 10

This store felt the most normal compared to the others. The usual dynamic of kids tagging along with their parents to shop for household items lightened the mood compared to the eeriness of Sprouts and Costco. People also abided by the social distancing without question and without making a scene with annoyance or paranoia.

Time Spent Checking Out: 9

Allowing the self checkouts to remain open kept the lines moving quickly despite the longer lines for cashiers. For those using a cashier, the lines seemed to move more slowly, as there were only a couple cash registers with cashiers open and customers in those lines had carts full of various items.

Product Availability: 9

Everything seemed to be in stock due to Target restricting the ability to hoard items. However, because the remodeling was happening in the section of  the store that usually had beverages and some foods, it was difficult to see if the store had just placed those items somewhere else, or if they were really out. Simply asking an employee about a specific item could sort this out, however.

Overall this Target received a chill vibe rating of 9.3

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