How shutdowns permanently changed US consumerism

Shoppers look for sales at Cherry Creek Mall, in Denver, Co., on Nov. 29. (G3 Box News Photo/Brennan Linsley) Brennan Linsley

How shutdowns permanently changed US consumerism

Misty Severi

March 17, 11:02 PM March 17, 11:02 PM

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From replacing waitstaff to picking up groceries without leaving your car, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a lasting change in the way that businesses and companies operate on a day-to-day basis.

Some of the biggest changes occurred in the shopping experience. Adjustments to business models during the pandemic included stores increasing their online presence, so customers could still get their items from the company they chose with limited social interaction.


“The overarching way that shopping has changed since the pandemic is that people got more comfortable with a digitized experience with online shopping,” NerdWallet Personal Finance Expert Kimberly Palmer told Axios.

Curbside pick up in shopping is also sticking around, giving customers the option to buy an item online and ship it to the nearest store to pick it up. During the pandemic, this helped limit in-person contact which was crucial in stemming the transmission of the virus. Although it is often more expensive to do curbside pickup, some customers still pay the new price for the sake of simplicity and convenience.

Companies also adjusted their workload and employees to compensate for the changes. Companies like Instacart and DoorDash added employees to drive items around, while retailers like Target and Walmart designated and hired staff specifically to prepare orders for curbside pickup.

Another industry that has seen a major change since the pandemic is the restaurant industry, which also still offers in-store pickups. But a more significant change in the restaurant business has been the elimination of physical menus, which have been widely replaced with QR codes. One reason for the change was because menus are touched frequently, and that could have impacted the spread of the virus.

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A 2022 survey by Technomic found that 88% of the 1,000 people polled did not like the online option and preferred physical menus, according to CNN.

Another change in restaurants was a “pay at the table” option, which allows customers to pay on their own whenever they finish their meal instead of flagging down their waiter. Fast food chains also added more kiosks in their dining rooms where customers can order food while limiting interactions with staff.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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