Here's how grocery shopping could change forever

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives in a lot of ways, from seemingly constant hand washing to social distancing. While a lot of the changes that have come about thanks to the pandemic, such as the shortage of toilet paper, are temporary, some aspects of our lives will likely change forever.

Grocery shopping is one thing that might be permanently altered by the pandemic, according to industry experts. Many people have been adjusting their grocery shopping habits during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to comply with social distancing, and these changes may continue even after the pandemic is over.

People may go grocery shopping less

People are making fewer grocery store trips during the pandemic, and this is one aspect of grocery shopping that may endure long after the pandemic is over. While people may have previously gone to the grocery store several times per week, marketing agency Acosta reported (per Today) that surveyed shoppers are making 52 percent fewer trips now than they did before the pandemic, while nearly half said they will continue to limit their grocery store trips after the pandemic is over.

Fewer grocery store trips means it's likely that people will stockpile goods, registered dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner told the outlet. "Stocking up is a skill people will likely keep using to save time once regular pace of life takes over again," she said.

Grocery shoppers will also likely become better at planning their trips, cutting down on aisle browsing and impulse buying. "Right now, we're trying to go to the store as infrequently as possible, which requires forethought and creative menu planning," lifestyle journalist Trae Bodge told Today. "I can see this kind of efficient shopping continuing once the worst of the pandemic has passed."

Delivery and pickup options may replace in-person grocery shopping for many people

It's quite possible that we will see fewer people in grocery stores after the coronavirus pandemic. Many people are now turning to shopping alternatives such as ordering groceries online or picking up groceries curbside, and it's likely that they will continue to seek out these options in the future. "After this is all over, I can see shoppers continuing to order online, especially those who, before COVID, struggled to squeeze shopping into their busy schedules or found shopping to be physically challenging," said Bodge.

People who do continue to go grocery shopping in person may opt for smaller stores rather than large grocery chains, some of which are seeing more traffic as people avoid the longer waits at big box stores.