There are roughly 40,000 retailers in the U.S. that would be classified as grocery stores. They range in size, and style, and the type of goods they provide. But, these are the places where most people in developed countries get their food. And they often get much more than they need. So what if they simply stopped operating? How would we adapt to life without the one-stop shop?
You’ve been caught!
With your pants on the ground! And you’re out of toilet paper. And you can’t get anymore.
At least, not how you’d normally go about getting it. But toilet paper isn’t the only thing you need. There are five food groups.
But all you’ve got are empty cupboards. They range in size, and style, and therefore the sort of goods they supply. But, these are the places where most of the people in developed countries get their food.
And they often get far more than they have. Grocery stores provide necessities, but they’re also designed to make money. There is a science to the way that grocery stores are laid out.
They entice customers to purchase items they don’t necessarily need. And this explains why some grocery stores stock as many as 45,000 different items, while the average consumer only needs about 300 items in their home.
For those tech-savvy, computer wizards among you viewers, yes, we know, you can do all your shopping online. But a world without grocery retailers would have fewer grocery wholesalers.
The food you’d want would still exist, but it wouldn’t be as readily available, because massive supply chains will have been disrupted.
And even if you were willing to pay a higher price for online groceries, some of the items on your list, like fresh produce, would be harder to get.
Maybe you like to start your day with a healthy dose of potassium, or something sweet, like a chocolate croissant. Well, if you live in the U.S. or Canada, for example, you’d have to change your routine.
Bananas and cacao aren’t grown there. And with fewer international exports and imports, the goods we love from abroad would be harder to obtain. From now on, most of the flavors you’d taste would be much more domestic.
So while we wouldn’t enjoy the convenience or the variety we take for granted today, we wouldn’t be in a total crisis. In fact, we’d probably live healthier, happier lives.
And we’d save some money too! For the items you couldn’t get online, you’d have to visit specialty stores or local farms to get your produce, meat, fish, wheat, and dairy.
While it would be incredibly time-consuming, it would make you a smarter consumer. You’d think more about what you need, and wouldn’t be as easily exposed to impulse marketing, like all that candy at the register.
You could also just start growing your own fruits and vegetables. Neighborhoods could establish community gardens, which have been proven to reduce crime and would provide low-income families with access to healthy food.
Community gardens also improve local air and soil quality. They increase biodiversity, and they reduce neighborhood waste through composting.
But if we’re okay for food, what about toilet paper and other necessities? Okay, so toilet paper you might have to buy online. Or you could just take a shower when you’re done your business. Or you could treat yourself and buy a bidet. Who knows? It could be fun! As for soap, you can make that yourself too.
All you really need is So while we’ve proven that we could survive, and probably thrive without grocery stores, making the change would definitely be a hard adjustment. We could probably build happier and healthier communities if grocery stores closed, but we’d also have to adapt our tastes.
There are pros and cons to grocery stores. One of the benefits is being able to taste flavors from faraway places, which we wouldn’t be able to access so easily without grocery stores.
Then again, grocery stores encourage people to buy beyond their needs and spend beyond their means. And the food that isn’t sold goes to waste.
Now, while we might not see a mass closure of grocery stores anytime soon we can still learn from this WHAT IF by thinking more about our shopping habits and becoming smarter consumers.
Grocery stores are a good reminder that we all have the same needs. So think harder about what you really need, while considering other peoples’ needs as well.
But if you think we’re all big spenders now, can you imagine how much more we’d consume if humans were 5 m (16 ft) tall? Well, that’s a story for another WHAT IF.