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There are things we did before the pandemic that we may never do in the same way again, including shopping. We've seen an acceleration in online purchasing that doesn't look to be slowing, and many walk-in stores are evolving to do more delivery or curbside pickups as consumer routines change.

For a brief moment this past summer, with vaccinations on the rise, it seemed like casual browsing in stores might be a welcome change. But the Delta variant has reminded us that we aren't out of the woods yet.

We’ve also witnessed some economic fallout in the marketplace, as the labor and supply-chain disruptions of the past 18 months have led to shortages of goods ranging from dishwashers to used cars. We tend to think of online options as limitless, but a recent nationally representative CR survey found that almost all Americans (90 percent) had felt some sort of economic impact when shopping for goods or services in the previous three months, including higher-than-expected prices (68 percent), and shortages (60 percent) and delays (58 percent) for products.

We don't know how long the pandemic or its economic consequences will continue, but we will be here to make sure you have the tools to shop smartly and safely, in person and online. One great example is our latest report, "How to Be a Smart Shopper Right Now." And look for the CR Recommended logo wherever you shop, sign up for the latest at CR.org/newsletters, and check out the ad-free CR website whenever you need independent, trusted guidance.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the October 2021 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.