Looking Back: Photos from the Aldi COVID Rush of March 2020

Four years ago the world shifted, all because of something too small for the eye to see. A virus, first discovered in China in 2019, spread across the globe in 2020. While researchers continue to grapple with the full loss COVID-19 caused, there is little doubt that humanity was affected in a number of ways, ranging from the effects of the virus itself to the economic and social changes that happened.

For us as Aldi writers, the outset of the pandemic remains a moment locked in our memory. We had to figure out how to cover the store, and how to navigate it safely. Every grocer, Aldi included, had to adjust not only to uncertainties about the virus, but also to a sudden rush of shoppers afraid of scarce supply. We will not soon forget the great toilet paper shortage of the spring of 2020.

Exactly four years ago today, on March 14, 2020 — one day after the president declared a nationwide emergency — Rachael and I paid a visit to our local Aldi store to see what we then called the “coronavirus shopping frenzy.” We took plenty of pictures.

Here’s a look back at what we saw.

Outside our Aldi store, about 20 minutes after the store opened. There were almost no parking spaces, and some people were even waiting for others to leave so they could take their spots. We parked in a different store’s lot and walked over. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

The cart storage area at 9:20 am. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

A number of stores in our area have altered their hours to give workers time to restock and clean. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

This was posted in the canned goods section. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

No eggs … but, hey, at least the price was good. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

To no one’s surprise, there was not a single scrap of toilet paper to be found. Just two days earlier, I’d visited this store, and it still had a decent supply. Not today. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

While not out, the paper towel supply was severely depleted. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

We saw scattered shortages of different food items. Here, the store’s rice stock is mostly gone. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

The meat department had seen better days, although there were still some products to be had. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

Take-and-bake pizza appears to be a popular catastrophe food. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

The store was plenty busy with people. Two weeks ago, this aisle had also been stacked with non-food products on the floor. Whether from high sales or from trying to open up more space, they had since been removed. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

The checkout lines stretched, in some cases, well into the aisles. No one seemed to pay much mind to the ALDI Finds in their midst. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

5 of the 6 lanes were open. They probably needed 7. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

With all the traffic, having adequate cash on hand apparently was a problem. (Photo credit: Rachael Johnston)

About Joshua

Joshua is the Co-founder of Aldi Reviewer. He is also a writer and novelist. You can learn more about him at joshuaajohnston.com.


  1. Catherine A. McClarey

    I remember having to order bread flour from Amazon at 4 times what had been the supermarket’s price, because not only was there no sliced bread to be had in the stores, there was no flour to be had in the stores either. And I still have to order shower cleaner online, because it’s still extremely difficult to find on store shelves, long after the end of the pandemic!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *