One of the things I find confusing is the value of shopping. People are spending much less on experiences, and many stores are closed. But half of brick and mortar shops offer curbside pickup or delivery now, and online purchases have increased by more than 28%.

Is that making a difference? Should we shop more in order to avoid a depression, or should we conserve cash in case we lose our incomes in the future?

If shopping is the helpful thing to do, does it matter whether we shop with local stores? Should we make a point of shopping with stores we normally shop with, so they will be able to survive the pandemic? Should we avoid big chains and support companies that might be in a more parlous position?

One article I read talked about triage. It’s time, they said, to identify the businesses that won’t survive, even with government help. They should close and their owners should get jobs with companies that have a better chance. Resources should go toward those companies that are more likely to make it through the pandemic.

On a larger scale, should we even be trying to return to the level of consumption and consumerism we had before? Now that we’ve seen that we are capable of cooking healthy food at home and living in a more frugal and sustainable way, maybe we should continue to do so. There will certainly be disruption, but maybe the benefits could be worth it.

I’ve been shopping during the pandemic. I’ve shopped with the online merchants I normally shop with. I’ve placed orders with people I know and smaller businesses that I would usually have resisted. Does that make a difference? Will it mean that companies I want to shop from will be around for the future?

Or should we wait for local shops to reopen and then make a point of shopping with them? Our local yarn store is gone, and we have no local fabric stores or even bookstores, apart from a used bookstore. There is no local source of my favorite brand of tea, either. Honestly, that is mostly what I buy. Is it better to support local Big Box stores than to shop with small companies in other towns or states?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions.