Holiday Grocery Shopping a Contact Sport

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by Lauren Lopez

Nov 27, 2013

Grocery shopping is madness these days. (Photo courtesy of
Grocery shopping is madness these days. (Photo courtesy of
Crowds increase at local grocery stores during holiday season (Photo courtesy of
Crowds increase at local grocery stores during holiday season (Photo courtesy of
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In Brief: 
  • Grocery stores are increasingly crowded as the holidays approach
  • Tips for the best grocery store experience

Each aisle is an obstacle of its own. Reaching over and under to get the last box of instant mashed potatoes, some shoppers have even formed teams in order to cross each item off of their grocery list.

“Watch the basket. I’m going in,” one customer told her daughter as she went down aisle six to get a can of cranberry sauce.

There is barely room for one more basket down any aisle at the grocery stores in San Angelo this week.

“There’s traffic inside and outside,” Karen Martinez said. “It took 20 minutes to find a parking spot.”

David Casarez, an employee of H-E-B, said, “It's amazingly crazy. There really is no room to move around, and that's during the low-traffic hours.”

"In 2013 there was a major shift in shopping due to Thanksgiving falling one week later than it did in 2012, so the customer counts were shifted but also reflected more customers earlier than usual. Customer count was also effected by last Saturday & Sunday's weather," said Lynn Shipley, H-E-B's unit director.  

“It is basket-to-basket packed. Business is good,” Cazrez said about H-E-B this week.

Despite the high increase of customers due to the approaching holiday, employees are still making an effort to keep all shoppers in good spirits.

Casarez stated, “We have the responsibility and trust to make sure our customers are satisfied or beyond more than they were when they came in.”

According to employees, from five in the afternoon until seven in the evening has been the busiest time period at H-E-B. 

“However, due to the number of people having the days off of work early, we have had an increase of foot traffic through the entire day,” Casarez said.

He also explained that the traffic tends to slow down as the store approaches closing time.

Shipley said, "I would suggest customers not liking to fight the crowds to shop early before 11 a.m. or after 8 p.m. to experience an improved shopping experience." 

Both customers and employees agreed it is good to have a plan when going grocery shopping during the holiday season.

Casarez recommends to “Come prepared.”

He said, “There have been times where shoppers have a basket full of things that they really didn't intend to get and leave without getting what they intended to get in the first place.”

Another word of advice, “Come early. Many of our products are fully stocked by the time the store opens. Our fresh foods are made fresh and our prices are slashed in some cases. Between the hours of 6 a.m. until 12 noon is my recommendation.”

“Come full,” Casarez added. “Impulse shopping hurts the pocket book, especially when you’re hungry. Eat a meal beforehand so your choices will be more sound and not on the basis of ‘I’m going to eat this because I'm hungry.’"

Casarez said he enjoys the busyness of the holidays, “I love my job because I love meeting new people, helping them with their needs and the smile and positiveness [sic] I get from helping someone.”

For last minute shopping needs Shipley said, "H-E-B will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 6 2 p.m."