Should I have groceries delivered or get them myself?
March 25, 2020 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Nobody in my house is at high risk for complications of COVID-19. In the context of the virus, is it better (on a community level) for me to go to the grocery stores myself, or to get them delivered? I can afford delivery, but slots are hard to get and so I feel like I should leave them for people who need them.

I would rather shop for myself, because I like to pick certain brands and go to particular stores, but that's a minor thing. I live near Seattle and the virus is very much present. My shopping list is long. Please advise.
posted by The corpse in the library to Shopping (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'd shop yourself. My high-risk friends are having an awful time getting delivery.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:29 AM on March 25, 2020 [24 favorites]

I would also go shopping myself - think of it: unless your store offers collection by store staff, you're also asking someone to go into a store, taking a risk for you.

I live with someone who is high risk, and when I went shopping the other day, I took these precautions: sanitized on the way in (in case I'm infected), tried not to touch my face inside, gave other people a wide berth, tried not to touch stuff as much as usually do (I'm usually that person feeling up the cans for dents), followed the store instructions about how to stand in line (they'd even marked out safe standing distances on the floor), thanked the cashier for being there, and sanitised my hands again on the way out.

For the protection of the staff, I wonder if stores will move all to a "click & collect" model (order online, store staff pick out, not people from a 3rd party service, and customers pick up at the front, so no one is in the store but the staff). But they may not have the staff to do so, so I just try to be as efficient and safe as possible. I could be a carrier, I don't know.
posted by jb at 7:37 AM on March 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

Go yourself. My local supermarket has a three week queue and yours might go the same way soon so slots for those who can't leave home will be essential.

If you have the capacity perhaps drop a line to elderly or otherwise vulnerable neighbours to see if you can pick up anything for them too.
posted by biffa at 7:37 AM on March 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

I went myself last night, and it was pretty empty. I never got within six feet of anybody. If you can go at an off-peak time (5:30pm for me, but mid-afternoon would probably be even better), you shouldn't have a problem. The initial hysteria seems to have worn off, and the store wasn't jammed with doomsday preppers stuffing carts full of rice anymore. There were even boxes of macaroni and cheese on the shelves! Obviously, still take precautions - don't touch stuff unnecessarily, use hand sanitizer and the cart wipes and stuff, cough into your arm, etc. - but if my experience is typical, it should be safe.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:43 AM on March 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Someone close to me has disabilities that prevent her going grocery shopping for herself. She's been relying on delivery, but right now she can't get a delivery appointment for the next 3 weeks.

If you're able, I'd plan to grocery shop in person and leave those delivery slots for others. In fact I'd maybe see if any high-risk neighbors need a personal shopper.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:54 AM on March 25, 2020

Definitely go yourself - unless you're high-risk or careless about hygiene the overall risk to the system of delivery vs. you going to the store yourself is about the same (someone has to go to the store, pick out food off shelf, take it to your home - it's just a question of whether that person is you or someone you're paying to do it).

I would try to confine yourself as few stores as possible, though. The fewer trips you make, the less you're exposing yourself and others. I too, can be picky about products from various stores and I will usually rotate through 3 or 4 grocery stores to get all the stuff I want, but right now I'm trying to only go to one, even if it means paying a bit extra or buying a non-preferred brand.
posted by mskyle at 8:08 AM on March 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

To the store it is! I'll go to as few stores as possible, put on new gloves at each stop, and ask my relevant neighbors if they need anything. Thank you, AskMe, for being unanimous (and giving me the answer I was hoping for).
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:21 AM on March 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

FYI I just checked my Seattle area grocery store and delivery slots are available for TODAY. For Fred Meyer delivery and picking has been done by store employees. If you are still uncomfortable with that, you can ask for pick-up, which would minimize your exposure.
posted by bq at 9:35 AM on March 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

I view pick-up services as a good overall risk reduction method.

They reduce the total number of people in the store, which reduces the risk presented by customers to in-store employees (and to other customers). They do not transfer the transportation risks. They reduce the total number of people who enter my building, which reduces the risk to my neighbors.

I've had no problems getting pick-up slots in Seattle, so I don't believe pick-up crowds out necessary services for vulnerable populations.
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 11:02 AM on March 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

I am getting groceries delivered for the foreseeable future because I live in NYC and reducing my exposure is my top priority right now. If this is something I can do to help protect me and my husband while we have to live in the US epicenter of the disease, I am absolutely doing it. Important note: so far in NYC, getting a delivery window for Whole Foods really hasn’t been hard.
posted by cakelite at 1:58 PM on March 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

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