Editorial: In praise of shopping with curbside pickup
Buy online, drive to the store and tip the mask-wearing employee who loads your purchases into your trunk.
Curbside pickup of groceries, takeout food, garden and home supplies, liquor, clothing, books, electronics and just about anything else has become a lifeline during COVID-19 quarantine. With it, many people largely have gone about their lives without risks associated with close personal contact.
We hope it's here to stay, even with Illinois further loosening restrictions on businesses this Friday. The thing is, even though you can go into a store or restaurant or garden center, not everyone should, even with the requisite mask and social distancing.
A lot of people are at high risk for serious bouts of COVID-19 because of illness, ongoing medical treatment or age. Some others do the mental risk-benefit calculation that's part of our new COVID-19 playbook and decide indoor public settings aren't for them. They'll continue to seek no-contact curbside pickup long after others are back to gathering with friends at bars and restaurants.
What's in it for stores? Possibly a bit of piece of mind for employees, for whom prepaid curbside delivery provides more distance than working checkout, and customer loyalty, certainly. Some stores -- small, local businesses in particular -- say customers are effusive in their gratitude.
Analysts quoted at Retaildive.com predict curbside is here to stay in spite of hurdles like staffing at peak times, setting aside drive-up space, developing an online system and missing out on impulse buys that come when a customer is browsing in a store. Even without COVID-19, it offers more immediacy than some retailers provide for home delivery and gets around problems of package thefts from doorsteps. It's honed with precision at some stores like Target, where users who check in using the app before they leave home might find employees waiting at the store entrance with their order.
Curbside pickup actually has been around for awhile. But it gained a lot of steam as the pandemic changed everything.
The luxury of safely picking up goods at your convenience demands a lot of appreciation from you, the customer. Thank store owners for making it happen. Tip store employees for making it happen. Be generous and understanding if you get sweet potatoes instead of russet potatoes. Everyone is learning.
Let's hope COVID-19 retreats sometime soon. But at least until then, let's keep curbside pickup going.