14 June 2020

Another COVID–19 Annoyance

It's bad enough that stores are poorly stocked with essentials. Whether that's from hoarding, logistical barriers, or production issues is really beside the point. I'm annoyed, though, that some marketing "geniuses" are making it even more difficult to maintain social distancing in stores with their endcaps and mid-aisle cardboard displays — and what's worse, seldom for essentials. There aren't endcaps or mid-aisle cardboard displays for flour, or baking soda, or even unusual cleaning products; no, they're for empty-calorie snacks and "Special Deal!" generic underwear and perfume. It's plenty difficult to keep two meters away from people in aisles averaging three meters or less in width, but when the walking space is made narrower — especially at aisle end, where everyone is turning to get to the next aisle — it's impossible.

And meanwhile, there are plenty of empty shelves where there isn't any rye flour, isn't any pasta, isn't any soup or ramen, isn't any pork that doesn't look unusually ill-trimmed. Plenty of space for the stuff stuck in the middle of the aisles.

So hats off to you marketing geniuses with no clue about store layouts, who no doubt order all of your groceries online and therefore never see the inside of a store… or, at least, never see the inside of a store that hasn't been specially cleaned up for your inspection visits and marketing consultations. It doesn't matter whether you're employed by the processed-food manufacturers, regional distributors, or stores themselves (corporate or local): You're all assholes for continuing something that was already annoying (just getting around the people stopping at the displays!) by deploying specific barriers. Literally barriers.

You're not helping, store managers, by not removing the displays, despite any "contractual obligations," and using your temporarily empty shelf space to enhance customer flow. Oh, wait a minute: You don't want customers to get through the store quickly, even though that's best for everyone's health; you want them to linger, hoping that they'll buy just one more thing with their steadily decreasing reserves of money, time, and health. Bugger off.

And shoppers: Don't walk side by side when we're supposed to be practicing social distancing. Especially when you're both — or all three of you! — paying more attention to your phones than anything else.