Social distancing shopping

I hate queuing. I don’t like following directions and I use cash. How will I cope with social distancing shopping?

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Social distancing shopping is my worst nightmare. Queuing, following a set route, being nice to people, it all makes my blood boil. As for contactless credit cards, what’s that all about? I have a pocket full of cash I earned from some special jobs and now I can’t spend it. What should I do? Go out or continue to stay home and shop online?

GR Ump.

Ask Marvin

Marvin Answers:

Mr Ump, I actually feel your pain.

There is this idea that we British love a good queue. I beg to differ.

The only two things worth queuing for are ice cream (Mr Whippy, no other) and fish and chips. It’s not that we British like queuing, it’s that we don’t want to create a fuss by walking away once we’ve joined one.

The Swedish on the other hand love queues. They have been practising for this social distancing shopping scenario for some time. IKEA pioneered the art of making people stand in long, grumpy lines and follow confusing one way systems around their stores. I managed to cause chaos in the Croydon IKEA once by trying to double back against the flow to reach a well hidden bookcase called ‘Billy’. It wasn’t pretty. The tutting alone made my ears bleed.

Social distancing shopping in IKEA

Problems with social distancing shopping

So yes, your pet hates are going to cause you some problems in the current climate

As you know, most stores now require us to wait outside in hastily formed queuing systems whilst inside people browse at a leisurely pace inside. This would be fine if:

  • the weather was always warm in the UK and we could eat ice creams in the queue
  • we have specific things we want to buy in store. My colour matching and decision making in the Homebase paint aisle could delay people outside for hours.
  • people didn’t spend ages trying clothes on to check how bad the lockdown weight gain has been
  • people didn’t feel obliged to linger in the store because they’d just queued and didn’t want to admit they’d only come in for a light bulb.

It’s no better inside. Here social distancing shopping rules and social etiquette uncomfortably collide. Are you allowed to overtake on the one way system, or can you go the wrong way to avoid a middle age ditherer choosing paint? Can you go back round if you’ve forgotten something? Are short cuts allowed?

None of it is clear. It might help if shops shouted at people over the tannoy to move on when they have spent too long loitering trying to work out whether Dulux Magnolia paint is the same as ‘Vanilla Mist’ or ‘Timeless’ (it’s all cream). That would certainly help queuing in some stores.

Things you can do to avoid social distancing shopping problems

Obviously it is a tricky situation. Coronavirus is no laughing matter. Much as you may get the urge to brush past Mrs Miggins at the fish counter, think of the health risks you’re running for both of you when you do.

Having experienced the delights of social distancing shopping a few times myself I think it’s only going to make you grumpy, and we don’t want that. There is always online and click and collect of course, they’re much more amenable to grumpy people.

Unless you’re an IKEA trained shopping Ninja, you’re going to find it all too frustrating to be pleasurable. Someone once called me a hotel Ninja once for my ability to navigate large, confusing hotels, but even I draw the line at furniture shops. Billy can stay put.

I would suggest that in your case you stay home, stay alert, and protect the NHS and the general public from your grumpiness.

Things will change. It won’t be long now that 2m has become 1m, and hopefully soon becomes have a hug day.

So in the short term then get online, order some wine and enjoy the sunshine.

I hate queuing. I don't like following directions and I use cash. How will I cope with social distancing shopping? 1
The only thing worth queuing for

Obviously, if you want ice cream or fish and chips then get out there, queue and make the most of happy food.

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