In War and Peace, Shopping Similarities

Originally printed in the January 2021 issue of Produce Business.

The Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 and 2021 has certainly affected our shopping habits, but it’s not the first time in US history that consumers were forced to think differently about their meal planning and places to purchase food.

This A&P Super Markets advertisement, appearing in the 1943 edition of the Saturday Evening Post, focuses on the importance of being flexible in food shopping during World War II. It also shows the husband tending his garden, which emphasized the importance of self-sufficiency.

According to records from A&P’s Historical Society, in 1943, A&P operated a total of 5,919 stores, 1,667 of them Super Markets, while the remaining were smaller operations.

This ad focused on how consumers could benefit from shopping at a large supermarket, since if one department was out of something, a consumer could just turn to a different department.

In the early days of the pandemic, many stores were struggling to stay in stock. Consumers were frantically stockpiling, and much warehouse, transport and store space was tied up meeting that demand. In time many consumers came to avoid visiting stores and possibly exposing themselves to the pandemic. Modern computerized delivery services have seen massive growth in the past year.

The ad was sent to us by John Pandol, director of special projects at Delano, CA-based Pandol Bros.