Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Observations at the Grocery Store

As I mentioned, I had done a mid-week shopping trip last week which was well timed with the crazy out of stocks and checkout lines that occurred over the weekend. The reality was that trip was a standard trip for me. I bought extras of things that were on deals and a few things that we consider staples that I knew we might be low on but I didn't buy extra of things like bread to get me through this week. If I had thought about it when I made my quick stop on Friday, I might have grabbed a few extra things. Although, knowing that they were out of chicken, eggs and water, I might not have found it anyway.

I decided that I would get groceries mid-week this week and give Curbside Express a try. I'm a shopper, it is part of the experience to choose the food that you are eating, to seek out new and different, so although it sounds convenient it was not something that I have used. I do use Amazon and Target for ordering things that we always use and don't need to 'shop' to choose and explore. And, I do love their app, it lets me compare prices between stores in real time (reflects current ad) so that I can get the best deals/values.

I organized my freezers and took stock of what I had figuring that I would do a stock up purchase on things beyond staples, so that I could only have to worry about fresh staples each shopping trip in the near term. I compiled my list and sought input from the family on anything that they wanted and sat down to place my order. The next available pick up time was 6 days out. I was good on most things but would be out of fruit and bread long before that pick up.

I debated placing that order for stock up items and doing a quick drive up order for Target. However, when I checked the Target app, I couldn't order most of those things for drive up (some were simply out of stock).

I came back and started to build my order. I struggled. Most of my everyday items I could find but there were a lot of things missing or wouldn't come up in a search. (I later learned that I could use the app to browse by aisle and find some of the things that didn't come up and likely some of the other things were out of stock.) I also realized as I was choosing what type of bagged lettuce that the current sale would end and I could be choosing things that wouldn't be on a deal next week. This frustrated me (it probably didn't help that it was late). So, I made a new plan.

I narrowed my list to the things that we needed and a few that I couldn't find online and decided to arrive at the grocery as they opened. The store was well staffed. There were a few employees in the lobby area that were sanitizing carts. There were employees in nearly every department that were stocking products. There were other shoppers but everyone went about their own business with little conversations. I was able to get most things on my list but I made a few observations in the process.

Produce was well stocked. I assume that they get this on a regular basis since it is perishable. Their in store bakery was out of most bread until they were able to get a shipment. In the bread aisle, they had bread and buns from the local bakery and a good amount of bagels but not much else. I was able to get the bread I needed but paid more since the store brand was out of stock. Pizza crust and pizza crust mixes were out of stock, there were some kits and some shells but the area was mostly bare. The rice row was low on stock but pasta was well stocked. They were out of ground meat (beef, turkey, etc) but had a good stock of chicken breasts, thighs, legs and such. They were out of most hot dogs and sausages. Pancake and waffle mixes were wiped out. Cereal and snack bars were well stocked. Milk, juice, cheese, and eggs were all well stocked. Again, I assume that this is product that comes in on a regular rotation so the replenishments were already planned. Ice Cream had a very limited stock - stress eaters perhaps?

As I headed to check out, I learned that the Scan Pay and Go app is usually not up until 8 am but I was able to scan everything on my phone ahead of that (but not before 7) and even though I checked out well before 8 am, it seemed to work without an issue. I had to wait in a self check row since the SPG register was not open but appreciated that I had used the app and was able to check out quickly and go.

I did learn that I can edit my Curbside Express after placing the order. So, when I got home, I built an order of staples to meet the $35 threshold and reserved my pick up time for next Monday. When I get my ad tomorrow, I will add to my order if there are any specials that I want to pick up and any thing that we might discover we want or need. I will give them my coupons and pay when I pick up. Fingers crossed that I get nice looking fruit and that they check the expiration dates (I assume they do but it's a new process for me). I think that my new 'habit' will be to set up that next week pick up once I return from the grocery and hold my spot in line.

How are your grocery stores? Have you used/do you love the pick up services that the stores offer?