If You’re A Millenial And You Know It, Do You Hate Grocery Shopping?

Let’s clutch some more pearls about millennials, yeah?

Image: Thomas Hawk

Yesterday, the Atlantic made a preposterous claim in a headline meant to incite the the very sort of irritation one feels when, say, a mosquito is stuck in your bedroom and you’ve already climbed into bed and turned off the light.

Why Do Millennials Hate Groceries?

“Why do millennials hate grocery stores?” it crows, before launching into some hard data about the shift in spending away from grocery stores and towards restaurants and bars — “food away from home,” as they call it. Now that they’ve got you in their clutches with this little blip of a fact, let’s take a closer look at the information at hand.

“In 2005, two-thirds of shoppers said that their local supermarket was their primary shopping destination, according to the 2016 U.S. Grocery Shopping Trends report from the retail trade group FMI. This year, fewer than half of shoppers do. The hegemony of the supermarket has been broken by the rise of food shopping options, particularly convenience stores, superstores, and online shopping.”

What’s happening is that there are more options than ever for people to buy food and the economy has slowly started to put itself back together after imploding a few years back. We all have more money! We have jobs! Also, we’re busy individuals who would sometimes rather go to the bodega for tomato sauce and some pasta than deal with the lines at the grocery store down the street. But, none of this is nearly as disastrous as it might seem.

If you take a gander at the above graph — provided inside the Atlantic’s piece — you’ll see that there’s not actually a dip. Consumers are spending more at both grocery stores and restaurants and bars. The actual issue this piece points out is that the U.S. consumer is diversifying where they get their food from. For a lot of people, supermarkets and grocery stores are no longer the only option for food shopping. You can indeed get chips at CVS and order your groceries from Amazon without having to get off your couch and put on real pants. Thus is one of the many wonders of the modern world. But what irks is the implication that grocery shopping is a dinosaur, soon to be extinct.

I grocery shop every week unless something terrible has happened. If I don’t make it to the grocery store, quiet panic sets in at the thought of my finances somersaulting into catastrophe as I order Seamless night after night. On Sundays, I buy stuff for the week and if time allows, I make that stuff and peck at it over the next few days. Something about this process feels like a cost-saving measure and if I actually sat down and did the math, it probably is.

That’s not why I do it. I do it because it’s good to take time and wander through the produce aisle, squeezing mediocre tomatoes and debating whether or not I should buy the kombucha or not. It’s an activity that serves to normalize more than anything else, a metric by which I can measure the rest of the week. If there was time to go to the store, then there’s time to make the food, eat the food, relax a little, drink a beer and read a book. It’s a measure of leisure, not an onerous chore to check off an ever-growing list. And it’s really quite nice.

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