Grocery Stores Added Arrow Stickers to Control Aisle Flow

Supermarket has arrow stickers on the floor guiding traffic flow
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Supermarket has arrow stickers on the floor guiding traffic flow

The pandemic brought about a host of changes to the way we live our daily lives, and one of the most visible of these was the way that stores laid out their physical space and managed their people flow. To promote social distancing and reduce the spread of the virus, many stores converted all their aisles to one-way only, with arrows directing the flow of traffic.

In all honesty, it was probably one of the better ideas that came out of the pandemic. What it made shoppers do was think about what they were doing in the store, rather than floating endlessly without a purpose. Pre-pandemic, a shopper could show up to the supermarket with a few ideas of what they wanted, and just kind of wing it. But during the pandemic, everybody had to step up their shopping game.

Shoppers would get their carts and set off on their journey. They would start in the produce section, move past the deli and meat departments, then hit all the canned, bottled, boxed, and bagged sections in the middle of the store, on their way back to the dairy section. Everyone was focused, alert, and hyper-aware of others.

Before checkout, they would swing through the home goods section for another couple bottles of Lysol and a quick check to see if they had any toilet paper in stock (spoiler alert: they did not). All the while, arrows guided them up and down each aisle.

The goal was to maintain their distance from the shopper ahead and behind them, equidistantly. There wasn’t a lot of time to meander, nobody wanted lollygaggers. Why are you taking that long to look at the ingredients in Prego spaghetti sauce? It’s a pandemic—just throw it in the cart and keep on moving!

If a shopper needed time to shop, that’s what InstaCart was there for. But if a shopper was headed into a store, they needed to have a list, sorted by department, and stick to it. And heaven forbid, the last anyone wanted was to forget something on their list. It meant they would basically have to start the whole process over, headed back to the beginning of the journey by the produce section, and try to remember what they missed on the next trip through the store.

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About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

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