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Online Grocery Shopping Surges During Pandemic

By SCOTT

McCLOSKEY

Staff Writer

As the COVID-19 pandemic grew in its early days, grocery stores were among the chief businesses to feel the hit. Not only did occupancy limits hold down the number of people that could shop there at any given time, many locals would rather not take the risk of walking crowded aisles.

So many of those shoppers let their fingers do the walking. Rather than peruse the aisles in person, they did so on their computers.

Since the onset of the pandemic last year, area grocery stores have seen a leap in the number of residents looking for delivery options — whether it’s curbside pick-up or home delivery.

Riesbeck Food Markets already had rolled out online shopping options at the majority of their 14 grocery stores around the Ohio Valley at least a year before the pandemic struck. Yet once the pandemic started, Riesbeck Sales Director Brian Riesbeck said curbside delivery became a popular option for many.

It became so popular that shoppers had to get in line even as they sat at their computers. Riesbeck said at the height of the pandemic last year, people had to place curbside delivery orders at least several days in advance not only at their stores, but also at some of their area competitors.

“We could not get enough slots open online for people to get on and place their orders,” Riesbeck said. “So there has been huge growth in it (online shopping) over the past year.”

Riesbeck added that, while they do offer home delivery at some of their locations, curbside pick-up is where the stores have experienced immense growth.

For the curbside pick-up option, store clerks stay busy filling grocery orders inside for a scheduled pick-up time, while customers are provided reserved curbside pickup parking spots near the front of the store. When customers park in one of the designated curbside spots, they are provided a phone number on the parking space sign to call to let store officials know they have arrived for their groceries.

Riesbeck said while they offer curbside pick-up at the majority of their stores, there are still a few that still do not offer it. He is quick to point out that because some locations are more rural than others, they are limited by high speed internet capabilities in those stores.

He said while Riesbeck’s has reallocated some of their store employees to help cover some of their online and curbside services, since they were designated “an essential business,” they hired some new associates to work strictly as personal shoppers for online pick-up orders.

Going forward, even beyond the pandemic, Reisbeck said he expects the area residents to continue using online and curbside pick-up services in a big way.

“I think people have grown used to using them,” he added.

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