Making Groceries Easier – New Services Help People with All Abilities

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

The major grocery stores in Ontario have been increasingly focusing their efforts on offering free or low-cost online shopping and pick up or delivery for customers.  Thought to be a result of Millennial overscheduling and impatience, this trend can provide life-changing services for persons with disabilities.  Whether a disability is physical, cognitive, mental or behavioural, public places can be extremely stressful and difficult for some people to navigate.  With online ordering and pick up, shoppers simply need to select items and pay online, arrange a pick-up time, park in a designated spot, call to state their arrival and wait until the purchases are loaded into their vehicle.

This can help to not only improve the ease of shopping but also varies the level of participation which can benefit some people.  For example, instead of sending a caregiver to the store with a list, if someone can use a computer, they can order the items they want independently and just leave the caregiver to do the pick-up.  No more problems with getting that wrong type of pasta sauce!

This is also actually more cost-effective, even considering the fees.  For example, if a caregiver is $25 per hour, then having them do shopping may cost $25-$50 in their hourly fee alone.  With the pick-up option, the fees may be minimal (or “free” depending on the size of the order) and the caregiver can just spend 10-15 minutes doing the pick-up (or unpacking items if they are delivered) versus taking an hour or more to shop.

Here is some information on the offerings by store that are now available in most major stores across Ontario and if not, will be soon:


Additional helpful services in major stores include the self-scan option.  For example, some Walmart locations offer self-scan in which you grab a scanner at the entrance and as you’re shopping you scan the items before putting them in your cart (and it’s pretty simple to remove items yourself if you change your mind).  When you are finished shopping head to the reserved self-scan checkout, scan the barcode on your scanner, and your whole order pops up – you pay and leave without having to wait in line or converse with a sales associate or cashier.  This option can be very helpful for people who may have social anxiety, limited tolerances for standing, walking, bending or reaching, have little time to do other responsibilities, or who are otherwise unable to tolerate the checkout part of shopping.

Overall, the possibilities and benefits are positive, and these services are proving very useful for people of all abilities.