The Express Lane Plight of Super Markets
on 10/30/2008 (0)
The biggest single issue facing supermarkets today is that of people using the express lane who clearly do not have fifteen items or less. People that use the express lane are typically in a rush and just want to grab a couple items and get out, often because they've left a small child alone in the car or parked across three handicap spaces. But when someone interjects their forty items or more into the line, the speed of getting checkout comes to a grinding halt and customers’ tempers flare.
|That is not 15 items or less! |
Studies show one person with double the groceries allowed in the express lane will increase the time for everyone behind them by tenfold. This is because clerks at express registers are ill equipped to handle large quantities of groceries, often due to the lack of a dedicated bag boy or a crippling fear of quantities of groceries over fifteen. In addition to the increased time customers are forced to spend in line, the likelihood of one or more customers being stabbed increases by 700%.
"When people get stuck in line behind someone that is clearly not following rules, they get very, very mad," said Super Ten Groceries night manager Gary Chore. "They wrongly associate their angry feelings with the grocery store itself and if it happens too often, will actually switch to a different store."
Chore sights this fact, a rash of mad cow infected meats, and the store's refusal to sell to anyone who doesn't wear a blue shirt as the primary reasons why his store has lost nearly 90% of their customers over the past year and now faces bankruptcy or a possible government bailout.
Often times, the actions of someone wrongly using the express lane are not intentional nor simply neglect but rather because they lack the education to know they are doing anything wrong.
"We need to better educate our shoppers," said Susan Helms, assistant manager of Bob's Food Pit. "50% of those who use the express lane can't read. And 75% can't count. It's not that they want to piss other people off, they simply do not realize the errors of their ways."
One step many stores have taken, including Bob's Food Pit, is to use signs with clear imagery of just how many items are allowed.
"We've got a sign showing two hands... even if a customer cannot count, they realize they can only have as many groceries as they have fingers," said Helms. Plans are currently in the works to add a foot image to the sign to allow for fifteen items.
Other grocery stores are implementing educational programs in order to teach customers basic reading and arithmetic so that they can navigate the treacherous checkout lanes.
"Our programs have been incredibly successful," said Mark Washington, whose job duties at Sure Good Foods involve teaching, toilet cleaning, and baking cookies for orphans. "It turns out most people can pick these things up rather quickly, on account that we only have to teach them to count to fifteen and they only need to learn to read 'Express Lane'".
Only time will tell if these measure are truly successful but for all our sakes I hope so. As one person who recently fell victim to being caught in the express lane behind a woman resupplying her bomb shelter, I can honestly tell you that there is no single worse place you could ever be. And no, I did not forget about Gary, Indiana.
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