If you weren’t an online shopper before the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns across Canada, there’s a good chance you’ve become one in recent weeks. The ability to order groceries and other essential items online has been a huge advantage to many Canadians, and has also reduced traffic at brick-and mortar locations. But it’s presented its own set of challenges, too, as we all respond to the pandemic in different ways: some of us stockpiled non-perishables, others overindulged in retail therapy, and many were unable to purchase what they needed.
We’ve all learned a lot over the past several weeks. As we continue to practice physical distancing and make purchases online, here are five ways we can shop smarter:
1. Limit your orders
As online retailers slowly catch up with the initial onslaught of demand, it’s becoming easier to schedule grocery pick-ups and deliveries, and desirable items are starting to be re-stocked. But don’t be tempted to place grocery orders every three days and order items one at a time on Amazon Prime. Doing so takes availability away from those who may not be as tech savvy, those who can’t afford to order items so frequently, and those who truly need the items they’re shopping for. Placing several small orders also puts unnecessary strain on the environment, mail carriers, and the people risking their health to package your orders.
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2. Mind your quantities
You might need paper towels, but you likely don’t need six packages of them. Use the same logic here as the one around how often you put in an order: a good rule of thumb is to buy what you need for two weeks or so, so that others can also buy what they need.
3. Shop locally
Many of us are feeling the economic strain of this pandemic, so it is tempting to search for the lowest possible price wherever we can. But if you can afford it, try to support a local business instead of a big box store when possible. It’s an incredibly difficult time to be a small business, and many have had to pivot by offering online shopping and deliveries when they haven’t before. Consider placing an order with your local bakery, for instance, instead of buying bread during your next grocery shop.
4. Take a pause
Akin to emotional eating, it’s common to turn to “retail therapy” for a quick dopamine boost when we’re feeling anxious, sad or drained. Instead of clicking the “buy now” button to purchase a non-essential item, try adding it to your online shopping cart and leaving it there for a week, or keeping a list of the items you’d like to buy. By taking a pause, we often realize that we don’t really need or even want the items we thought we did when we were feeling down.
5. Don't open the door to receive deliveries
According to Health Canada, there is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages, but we should still practice careful hygiene when opening them: dispose of packaging, disinfect all surfaces, wash hands thoroughly after handling, and refrain from touching your face.
Person-to-person contact, however, does pose a risk of transmission, so refrain from opening your door to receive deliveries. Most online retailers offer an option to leave a delivery note at checkout, where you can include detailed instructions regarding where the package should be left.
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