13 Ways That Grocery Shopping Has Changed Over the Decades

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Gen X and older generations have witnessed lots of changes over the years. One area of change has been grocery shopping, which has experienced tremendous changes. Here are 13 things that have changed in grocery shopping in the last four or more decades. 

A Lot Quieter

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Grocery shopping back in the day was noisy. “Old mechanical cash registers clicked and clacked. Everyone paid in cash, so lots of coins were clinking. People stocking shelves were stamping prices onto the goods…those stamps were noisy,” explains a Gen X.

More In-Store Ready-Made Foods

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I grew up thinking there were two kinds of mustard in the world: French’s and Gulden’s,” writes a 60-year-old. There weren’t many options in the 70s and 80s, unlike now when you can get ‘rotisserie chicken and salad bars’ from the grocery store.   

More Processed Foods 

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There was much less processed food as everyone made their own,” says an Old Gen X user. 

Faster and More Accurate Registers

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Working as a grocery store check-out clerk meant punching buttons on big cash registers, knowing the base price of products, and keying in the correct prices. This process was long, tiring, boring, and sometimes inaccurate. It’s a good thing that this changed when bar scanners were introduced.

No More S&H Green Stamps

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Collecting S&H stamps was a thing, as one could redeem them at the Green Stamp Store for another product(s). Unfortunately, “S&H stamps officially ended on October 4, 2020, but peaked in the late 1960s and into the 1970s,” writes a commentator.

Fruits and Vegetables Available All-Year Round

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Fresh produce was always local,” writes a Reddit user. So if it weren’t the season for a specific fruit or vegetable, you wouldn’t find any in the store. Today, however, fruits and vegetables are available all year. 

Less Service at Registers

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In addition to working on the cash registers, check-out clerks were expected to help carry and load the items to the customer’s car. And it was unlawful to accept a tip. 

Larger Selection of Products

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You didn’t have 15 varieties of shampoo or soap per brand,” recalls a 60-year-old. Today, an ‘excess of false choice’ makes it difficult to find the best product among many. 

No Store Credit

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(We) used to sign the receipt and walk out (of the store), and a monthly bill would be mailed to you,” explains a 60-something-year-old. “I used to go anywhere local and buy anything with a signature,” adds another commentator.

Today, no one would risk giving their products to customers and trust they would pay just because they signed on paper. 


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Grocery stores now include self-checkout, but it wasn’t the norm years ago. “They’d bag your groceries in brown papers and put them on a long table with rollers. Then you’d get to your car so another bag boy would put them in your trunk,” explains a user.

Fortunately, things are different now. One 50-year-old customer who loves the self-checkout explains, “There’s little to no waiting at the self-checkout where I shop. Plus, I have never enjoyed small talk, so I’m happy not to have to chat with cashiers.” 


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Delivery is back, and I’m surprised it took a pandemic to do it,” notes a user. Grocery stores would deliver groceries in the past, but these services have gradually decreased. Thanks to the pandemic, deliveries are back on track. 

No More Freebies

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Gen X and older generations remember how many items had premiums in the old days. “Boxes of tea had miniature porcelain figurines, cereal boxes had coveted toys and dog food had plastic dishes inside,” reads a post. You would get more value for what you paid for, unlike today. 

Larger Stores

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Stores are bigger, and you can’t just run in or out as fast nowadays. Items are now all over the stores,” reads a post. 

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