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(Lifehacker)   Math says you should avoid the express lane at the grocery store   (lifehacker.com) divider line 142
    More: Spiffy, waste of time, grocery stores, checkout lane  
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7313 clicks; posted to Geek » on 02 Jan 2013 at 10:12 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-01-02 09:13:52 PM  
Experience says otherwise. And unlike math, experience is based in the real world.
 
2013-01-02 09:18:59 PM  
Express lanes should be 5 or less.  Anything over 5 isn't really express.

Walmarts is over 20 which doesn't make any sense at all.
 
2013-01-02 09:23:17 PM  
Let's say you're in an express line with five people ahead of you and everyone has 10 items each (50 items total). In the standard line beside you, there are also five people but they all have 20 items each (60 items total).

wha?
 
2013-01-02 09:25:53 PM  

MaudlinMutantMollusk: Let's say you're in an express line with five people ahead of you and everyone has 10 items each (50 items total). In the standard line beside you, there are also five people but they all have 20 items each (60 items total).

wha?


It's science.

Really, just avoid any line with old women or young kids and you'll be fine.
 
2013-01-02 09:32:27 PM  

MaudlinMutantMollusk: Let's say you're in an express line with five people ahead of you and everyone has 10 items each (50 items total). In the standard line beside you, there are also five people but they all have 20 items each (60 items total).

wha?


Romney pollster now writing for lifehacker.
 
2013-01-02 09:37:19 PM  

Klippoklondike: Walmarts is over 20 which doesn't make any sense at all.


Because there are people at Wal-mart that have 50-100 items at any given time in a line.
 
2013-01-02 10:13:32 PM  
The most important thing to remember about the express lane is that you should wait until the cashier is entirely finished ringing up your purchase and bagging it, and only then should you start digging in your purse for your checkbook. And use coupons, lots of coupons.
 
2013-01-02 10:15:16 PM  
My local grocery store (Market Basket) usually has 5-6 lanes of people with full shopping carts and 1-2 with 12 items or fewer. If one of the express lanes has more than three or so people waiting, the second express lane opens up. The only time I have to wait for checkout is if I buy a lot of stuff.
 
2013-01-02 10:18:09 PM  
is the five minutes or so that big of a deal? the same people concerned about this are running over peons in the parking lot
 
2013-01-02 10:24:21 PM  
MaudlinMutantMollusk
Let's say you're in an express line with five people ahead of you and everyone has 10 items each (50 items total). In the standard line beside you, there are also five people but they all have 20 items each (60 items total).

wha?


I was going with "the fark?", but yeah.

If 5*10=50 and 5*20=60 you aren't in the express checkout, you're online shopping at zombo.com.
 
2013-01-02 10:26:28 PM  
It is the number of transactions, not the number of items. With the scanners a good clerk can ring up more than one item a second, but the counting cash, validation of credit, or filling in of a check will take a minute or so.
 
2013-01-02 10:27:19 PM  
Personally I like the self check out lane. As long as there are no little old ladies trying to use it ahead of me.

/It's not self check out if you need assistance for every item
 
2013-01-02 10:27:20 PM  
Or the stores could, you know, open more lanes for checkout instead of having only a few open at a time, which guarantees clogging of every lane, express or not. But that would require hiring more workers, and we can't have that because unions.

/Maybe your experience is different, but every grocery store I go to is extremely inefficient about opening lanes even when the store is crowded
 
2013-01-02 10:27:51 PM  
Let's say you're in an express line with five people ahead of you and everyone has 10 items each (50 items total). In the standard line beside you, there are also five people but they all have 20 items each (60 items total).

THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN IN THE REAL WORLD.  People in the regular lines have 100+ items, two kids in tow, fourteen hundred coupons, a checkbook, and a pen that doesn't work.  They've also just forgotten they need cat litter, so they'll "be right back" sometime next year.
 
2013-01-02 10:29:07 PM  

shanrick: The most important thing to remember about the express lane is that you should wait until the cashier is entirely finished ringing up your purchase and bagging it, and only then should you start digging in your purse for your checkbook. And use coupons, lots of coupons.


you forgot to write a check and since the customer is always right you will be okay they will allow it, did you make sure to pick up an item that will need a price check
 
2013-01-02 10:31:04 PM  
I've worked as a grocery store cashier, and that article is baloney. Most people who use the express lanes buy only 5 or 6 items, and most people in the regular lanes have full baskets - 50 or 60 items. In an express lane the longest part of any transaction is the customer paying. But the longest part of a regular lane is unloading the groceries from the basket, ringing them up, and then bagging them all again. A good cashier can move about 8 people or more through an express lane in the same time it takes for a regular lane with one full basket. Also, most customers in an express lane are in a hurry and have payment ready, while the full baskets are the moms doing the weekly shopping who take their time with coupons, digging out the checkbook, etc.

tl;dr = That article is completely wrong.
 
2013-01-02 10:32:14 PM  

Waldo Pepper: shanrick: The most important thing to remember about the express lane is that you should wait until the cashier is entirely finished ringing up your purchase and bagging it, and only then should you start digging in your purse for your checkbook. And use coupons, lots of coupons.

you forgot to write a check and since the customer is always right you will be okay they will allow it, did you make sure to pick up an item that will need a price check


Or they insist on writing out the check instead of giving to the cashier for them to run it through the magic machine that turns their check into one time use debit card. Just sign the damn thing and hand them the black check. Why are you surprised, they've been doing it this way for the last 10 flipping years!
 
2013-01-02 10:34:06 PM  
Here's a tip..look at the persons in front of you. If it's two young adults, jackpot. If it's a single senior, look elsewhere.

On a side note, this afternoon at the local supermarket two of the self-checkout lanes were bottle-necked by individuals with loaded grocery carts. Individuals, as in no one to bag stuff after it's scanned, and loaded, as in way too much stuff to fit onto the belt. Why? Why why why. The amount of time you're burning doing this cannot possibly be longer than waiting for a cashier. Believe me, no one cares that you're buying lice cream and laxatives.
 
jbc [TotalFark]
2013-01-02 10:34:26 PM  
Where has there ever been an express line with more than 3 people in it? Ever? Rarely are there even 2 people in it. Besides, the only time you should ever need a human cashier is when you're getting beer and the self-check line wastes your time by calling the attendant over anyway to check ID.
 
2013-01-02 10:35:20 PM  
I'm so happy Stop and Shop has the scan as you shop devices. I can buy $70 in groceries and spend five minutes or less actually checking out in line.
 
2013-01-02 10:37:46 PM  
The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.
 
2013-01-02 10:38:54 PM  

doglover: Experience says otherwise. And unlike math, experience is based in the real world.


The shortest line is fastest not always.
 
2013-01-02 10:39:25 PM  
I shop at 8 a.m. on Saturday, when the shelves are stocked and there are no lines.
 
2013-01-02 10:40:44 PM  
Whatever happened to just looking at what lines are moving, anticipating potential problems due to old crones and mothers with their brood and just avoiding them.

My wife can take 45 minutes shopping when I can be back in the car with the same items roughly 10-15, and I stopped at the Deli too!

/If you know your PLU Numbers it can save you a LOT of headache in the self-checkout too.
 
2013-01-02 10:42:56 PM  

shanrick: The most important thing to remember about the express lane is that you should wait until the cashier is entirely finished ringing up your purchase and bagging it, and only then should you start digging in your purse for your checkbook. And use coupons, lots of coupons.


Be sure to point out that something that you are purchasing is deficient in some way and asking where you can obtain a product more to your liking. That is what the checkout person is there for.
 
2013-01-02 10:43:01 PM  

Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.


That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.
 
2013-01-02 10:43:02 PM  
I go to the aisle with the cutest cashier or best selection of magazines.
 
2013-01-02 10:43:44 PM  
Look, Mrs. Simpson, the express line is the fastest line not always. That old man up front, he is starved for attention, he will talk the cashier's head off.  Let's cut to... that line.

But that's the longest!

Yes, but look: all pathetic single men. Only cash, no chit-chat.

1.bp.blogspot.com
 
2013-01-02 10:43:50 PM  

Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.


I'd like to be on the no-coupon, credit/debit-only lane.
 
2013-01-02 10:44:21 PM  
Common sense says that express lanes should be cash or card only. NO CHECKS, NO COUPONS.

Common sense also says that if business is slow and the express lane is free, I should be able to bring 16 or 21 or whatever items without the cashier biatching that I have too many items.

It usually seems that the more people are in a line, the slower it will move, rather than a fewer number of people with the same amount of items. It's a crapshoot. But, I always use a live cashier out of solidarity for their job security.
 
2013-01-02 10:46:11 PM  
I'd rather the stores had an "excess" line, where people buying food for the next year and people who think it's 1975 and paying with a check is even remotely acceptable are forced to go.

That said, I usually just pay at the self checkout. It's usually faster, and it's not like scanning barcodes requires a Ph.D.
 
2013-01-02 10:48:21 PM  

Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.


Won't happen in most stores, because while single queue lines to tend to be faster, people don't see that. They see a giant line and exaggerate their wait time in their head. Stores are (rightfully) afraid it will give them a negative image and lose them customers.
 
2013-01-02 10:48:33 PM  
I use the self-checkout, and go fast. That is, when some Luddite gets in front of me and cant figure out how to work the damned thing. If the lines are too long there, I'll go through the regular checkout with my five or six items, only to be blocked by the elderly woman who either pulls out her checkbook at the very last minute, or who can't fathom the card reader. It seems like I seldom win in any case.
 
2013-01-02 10:48:39 PM  

BarkingUnicorn: I shop at 8 a.m. on Saturday, when the shelves are stocked and there are no lines.


I shop during the second or last week of the month to avoid the pay/welfare check grocery store rush that comes following the 15th and the 30th.
 
2013-01-02 10:48:43 PM  

skinink: I'm so happy Stop and Shop has the scan as you shop devices. I can buy $70 in groceries and spend five minutes or less actually checking out in line.


What takes 5 minutes if you are scanning as you shop?

I can also buy $70 in groceries and only spend 5 minutes or less checking out.

self-checkout rocks - the place I shop has 10 of them. They're also usually the only lanes open at 3 AM.
 
2013-01-02 10:49:09 PM  
*until* some Luddite...
 
2013-01-02 10:49:10 PM  
The Walmart by my house always has a one armed man working the speedy checkout line. That seemed cruel to me at first but he is much more efficient with that one arm that the rest of the cashiers are with two
 
2013-01-02 10:49:23 PM  
When I shop for just a few items at off-peak hours, it's not uncommon for a line to build up at the express lane when only one or two of the others are open. Then they'll usually get somebody to open the lane next to it, and get through the line much faster. Happened to me this afternoon, and I went from the back of the express line to the front of the new line. It didn't take long for that to happen, either. The article's author doesn't take this possibility into account.
 
2013-01-02 10:50:04 PM  
TFA links to AFA about shoppers avoiding lane 13. Seriously? People do this? Wonder how they'll get through the year.
 
2013-01-02 10:51:51 PM  

The Voice of Doom: If 5*10=50 and 5*20=60 you aren't in the express checkout, you're online shopping at zombo.com.


You're holding up the line with all the internets you just won!

I clicked on that article looking for some interesting math or some realworld useful tips. Instead I got a stupid middle school word problem with a basic arithmetic error.
There are never 5 people in 1 express line, nor 3 people with 20 items each.
There's 2 in the express lane, one with 10 items over the limit. 2 people each in the normal lines with heaping carts. And then there's me in self-checkout lane walking on past all this crap.
 
2013-01-02 10:54:56 PM  

Austinoftx: Common sense says that express lanes should be cash or card only. NO CHECKS, NO COUPONS.

Common sense also says that if business is slow and the express lane is free, I should be able to bring 16 or 21 or whatever items without the cashier biatching that I have too many items.

It usually seems that the more people are in a line, the slower it will move, rather than a fewer number of people with the same amount of items. It's a crapshoot. But, I always use a live cashier out of solidarity for their job security.


No cash. Cash slows down the line. When I go to the grocery store I'm processing my debit card payment while the cashier is still scanning the goods. By the time she's done I've already inserted my PIN and ready to approve. The woman in front of me meanwhile was digging through her purse for exact change.

And no, you cant take your 16 items to the 10-item express lane when no one is there. Woe to the cashier that has to explain to the guy that just came up behind you that wanted to be in and out with his 1 item in 60 seconds why he has to wait a few extra minutes because you can't count.
 
2013-01-02 10:55:21 PM  

jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.


But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.
 
2013-01-02 10:55:26 PM  

utsagrad123: The Walmart by my house always has a one armed man working the speedy checkout line. That seemed cruel to me at first but he is much more efficient with that one arm that the rest of the cashiers are with two


Sounds like a step up from the on near where I used to live - I think they only hired Brazilian Three-toed Tree Sloths.
 
2013-01-02 10:57:07 PM  

Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.


I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?
 
2013-01-02 10:58:55 PM  
Other day, I was in the express aisle. 2 women in front of me, neither had much. Old woman in front, had to divide her 12 items over 3 tickets, 2 paid with cash from different envelopes, 1 with plastic.

Woman in front of me had only a gallon of milk. Which she forced them to price check. She then tried to use an expired coupon, and of course didn't bother to try to dig it out of the suitcase she carried as a purse. Then, she WROTE a check. She didn't use the printer, she wrote it out. After digging in her purse again.
 
2013-01-02 10:59:23 PM  

fozziewazzi: BarkingUnicorn: I shop at 8 a.m. on Saturday, when the shelves are stocked and there are no lines.

I shop during the second or last week of the month to avoid the pay/welfare check grocery store rush that comes following the 15th and the 30th.


hahaha Poor people suck.
I just shop at Whole Foods. Nothing keeps away the riffraff like $4 eggs.
 
2013-01-02 10:59:29 PM  
There should be a no cart/basket lane. You can only purchase as many items as you can carry in your hands.

Half my grocery store runs are for a few fresh items. Nothing pisses me off more than a person ahead of me in the express lane with a full cart as well as a screaming baby and I'm only holding a bag of fresh shrimp and a head of cabbage.

/I like the single line for a the registers system they have at my local Trader Joe's. Of course there are people that fark that up to by being too damn busy updating their facebook status to see or hear the hippie in the Hiawaiiam shirt waving and yelling at them.
 
2013-01-02 10:59:40 PM  

Fisty Bum: Look, Mrs. Simpson, the express line is the fastest line not always. That old man up front, he is starved for attention, he will talk the cashier's head off.  Let's cut to... that line.

But that's the longest!

Yes, but look: all pathetic single men. Only cash, no chit-chat.


If this had been posted first in the thread, it would have been done in one.
 
2013-01-02 11:01:55 PM  

Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.


I invite you to go to politics thread with this form of Supermarket Socialism.
/THANKS OBAMA!
 
2013-01-02 11:02:19 PM  

bionicjoe: fozziewazzi: BarkingUnicorn: I shop at 8 a.m. on Saturday, when the shelves are stocked and there are no lines.

I shop during the second or last week of the month to avoid the pay/welfare check grocery store rush that comes following the 15th and the 30th.

hahaha Poor people suck.
I just shop at Whole Foods. Nothing keeps away the riffraff like $4 eggs.


Yeah but have you seen what they charge for arugula?
 
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