Having seen what’s going on in American grocery stores, with the toilet paper hoarders and such, I wanted to provide a quick compare-and-contrast with how things are here in central Finland. We went outside today. Here’s what happened.
- We stopped in a cafe for coffee and pastries and were the only customers in the place. Even early on a Monday, this was a little weird.
- Gambling machines in stores have been shut down nationwide, with signs posted that this is a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
- Yes, there are gambling machines (virtual slots, video poker, etc) in nearly every grocery and convenience store here.
- There were no customers in the Apteekki (pharmacy). Fully staffed and full shelves, but quiet and empty.
- At Prisma, the closest thing here to a Walmart, shelves were stocked. No TP shortages. There were some empty spaces because they’re in the midst of remodeling and resetting the store, but not because hoarders had cleaned the place out.
- There was a person at the self-checkout continually wiping things down and disinfecting the area. She was wearing rubber gloves.
- At Lidl there was plenty of TP. It was the pasta and rice section that had been decimated. This is where the university students shop, though. A lot of classes have gone online, so students aren’t taking meals in the campus cafeterias.
We Went Outside
We’re going to continue our routine of twice-weekly shopping trips. The shopping center is in walking distance, although we usually take the bus back. This limits our buying to what we can carry. We’ve tweaked the days and times we go to when it will be less busy, so there will be fewer people.
My list has shifted toward non-perishable and shelf-stable foods. Less potatoes, more rice and pasta. Fewer fresh vegetables and more frozen, a least until the freezer is full. I’m also doing a slow buildup of essentials. We didn’t need toilet paper today, for example, but we bought one package anyway to stash in the cupboard. Things we might buy every-other trip we’re buying every time. I want to have plenty of coffee, rice, flour, toiletries, and so on.
No one knows how long this will go on. Some experts say COVID-19 is going to stick around for 12 to 18 months. There’s no need to panic buy, but a slow buildup of reserves is reasonable. Things have been changing quickly, so if some point next week or next month we can’t leave the apartment for a while, we’ll be fine.