Shopping has drastically changed since the beginning of 2020. When we're out now, we need to protect our own health as well as the health of the staff and customers we meet.

Navigating this new normal can be a little confusing, so we've got some helpful tips for a successful grocery trip.

While the grocery store may feel like a maze or obstacle these days, it's important to follow the guidelines for each individual location. Protect yourself and others by wearing a face mask when entering a store or market.

Minimize crowding by limiting shopping trips and shopping alone. Shop biweekly and avoid going out for single items. Always try to go alone, but if someone else needs to be with you, walk in single file. Organize your list by department/vendor to help shorten your trip. Using your cellphone while out can spread germs onto anything you touch and back to your phone. So, keep your phone in your pocket (or your car) and make a paper list to recycle when you're done. 

Sanitize your hands before entering. Sanitizer should be available at entrances for customer use. Thoroughly sanitize before entering, even if you don't think your hands are dirty, then don't touch your face for any reason. Don't take anything with you other than a list, contactless payment option, and your keys. Avoid touching anything you don't need while shopping. 

Follow directions. Because most aisles are narrow and some vendors are close together, one way markers are used to aid physical distancing. Although sometimes confusing, it's important not to go the wrong way up an aisle, even if it means walking farther to get what you need. This safety precaution benefits you and the people around you.

Be patient and keep your distance. Avoid busy aisles by going a different way or waiting for it to open. When in a hurry, shop at an off-peak time to avoid long line-ups.  

Review the market or store's website before heading out. Confirm what payment types are available and review guidelines before going. If you're unwell, place a grocery order with your store for contactless pickup, or ask a friend to shop for you.

Remember to always be kind to store workers, shop quickly, and properly dispose of any used PPE.