Adjusting to New Social Etiquette

Week of April 20, 2020

CLEs Re-evaluating Social Etiquette Practices


Common themes we heard:

People will care more about how their behaviors affect others. Handling food less at the store, wearing masks past the pandemic.

  • People are going to give each other more space for a while after the pandemic. Handshakes and hugs will be reserved for family.

A mask as a new norm

“I honestly don’t feel things will return to a real normal for a long time,  After what this COVID-19 has done, I feel that wearing a mask will become a norm for quite a while. People won’t be shaking hands like we use to do. Maybe it will be more like a bow. Regarding people being so touchy of the produce, some stores bag them in netted bags. Just like the bulk items are now bagged in 1 pound plastic bags, so no one is touching scopes any longer. What really concerns me, is the children. With the schools turning to distant learning. The way the school officials are speaking about the next school year it’s very concerning. They not planning on classrooms having as many children in them, nor having as many classes and doing more distant/online learning for all ages. I feel for the parents who have to work.”- Colleen


Overall better hygiene

More hand washing, being more conscious of what they touch, using more hand sanitizer, covering their face when sneezing or coughing.

New expectation of practices to avoide any touch

“I believe handshaking will be replaced by some other acknowledgement.  I think fist bumps are too “touchy” and elbow bumps are too casual.  I’m in favor of a slight bow toward the person you wish to acknowledge.  Masks will become normalized which effectively depersonalizes everyone since facial expressions are not visible.  I was teasing our police chief the other day about the days when police were likely to stop anyone wearing a mask as a suspicious person.  Casual hugs will probably be a thing of the past.  We are likely to be more suspicious when shopping.  Picking up a product and setting it back down will be considered impolite.  I can see the sign now–“You Touched It, You Bought It!”  More food will be packaged and some company will develop and advertise anti-viral packaging. Consumers will look for products advertised as “touch-free”.  I was surprised at my own reaction the other day.  I picked up food at a drive-through and got really angry when the employee looked into my food bag.  I had to consciously restrain myself from yelling at her.  She was not wearing gloves either.  This was before the recommendation for masks.  The restaurant in question has lost my business.  I believe our society will employ physical “buffers” to avoid touching people, products, doorknobs, etc.  There will be more depersonalization because of the avoidance of touch and the use of face masks.”- Barbara


No hand-shaking or hugs for awhile

“I definitely think things will change for a long time to come. I think hand shaking and hugging when people meet may not happen for a good while. I do think mask wearing and keeping ones distance will also last quite a while. I think people should stop touching all the food anyway so I do not see this as necessarily a bad thing. I think how a lot of people view hygiene and certain practices will now be forever altered after this experience.”  Heather

 A few have little hope and think there will be no long lasting change to social etiquette.


Expectation of lasting change depends on your demographic

 “I’m not so sure social etiquette will change at all once things get back to normal ,(If at all). I believe it may depend on one’s demographic. For example: In Texas, I have observed that most have chosen not to wear masks until we actually had a city-wide order go into effect this week. As far as grocery shopping, like the author of the article, I still see people handling produce way too much, so that hasn’t changed at all. As bad as this sounds, I believe that some will continue to be the selfish, self- centered people they always were before this pandemic started. Toilet paper anyone???”- Ronald 

What things have you been doing to stay connected to people?


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Common themes we heard:

People are taking more time and consideration when connecting to others.

Quality time with family

“I’m lucky to be at home with immediate family right now and there’s never a dull moment. I’m busy all the time streaming tv/movies, cooking, doing chores, having deep conversations, but it definitely feels worthwhile to spend quality time with family. We’ve been keeping in contact with extended family through phone calls and social media, though I feel like we haven’t been checking in enough. I’veenjoyed feeling connected to others on social media. It feels like we are all in the same situation and cheering each other on every day. My sister and I were disappointed about missing Earth Day events today and drew a sidewalk chalk message for the neighbors in our driveway. There seems to be a lot of positivity, encouragement, and creativity online and in the local community. I like seeing ideas for recipes, crafts, self-care, exercise, etc. I try to encourage others, and I really appreciate seeing how others are coping and learning about new ways to get through this quarantine. I think many people are looking for motivation, as well as fun distractions and entertainment, right now.”- Kathryn


Embracing positives in difficulties

“A lot of my friends and family members are all working from home or at home because they have been let go temporarily. It has provided opportunities for us to actually talk on the phone with each other, text more often and video conference. I have learned to find and embrace the positive in this situation. ”- Eva


More Facetime with friends and family

“A lot of my friends and family members are all working from home or at home because they have been let go temporarily. It has provided opportunities for us to actually talk on the phone with each other, text more often and video conference. I have learned to find and embrace the positive in this situation. ”- Eva

April 20, 2020

CLE are willing to spend MORE money to have LESS human interaction


Prior to the pandemic, few consumers noticed how much human interaction occurred during grocery shopping.

Now, over 6 weeks into shelter in place in most states, consumers are concerned about human interaction, 55% of CLE would pay MORE for their grocery items if instead they can have LESS human interaction.


What is still worth paying more for?


  • When faced with limited budgets, 59% of CLE will still spend more for products that are related to their health.
  • CLE are not willing to sacrifice products with undesirable ingredients, as clean label products were considered worth spending more for as well.
  • To combat human interaction, over 1/3 will pay more for delivery.

However, they are still struggling with limited budgets and reduced incomes.

What are they are sacrificing instead?



  • To reduce spending, 36% of respondents have given up impulse purchases, which shows that they are sticking to what they need and not necessarily what they want.
  • Some also are forgoing specific brands/products which means they are reaching farther into the shelf to try brands and products they haven’t tried in the past.