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(The Consumerist)   The reason why milk is located in the back of the grocery store? It's not as obvious as you think   (consumerist.com) divider line 190
    More: Interesting, Planet Money, grocery stores, shelf life  
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30958 clicks; posted to Main » on 28 Jul 2014 at 4:31 AM (52 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-07-28 05:37:57 AM  

TheMega: some grocery chains wouldn't have a small dairy cooler at the front of the store for people who need milk and are in a huge hurry

And they don't!

Been in stores from Fl to NY, to VA to WY.. Dakotas to TX.. WI to NV.. even up in Canada;  have NEVER seen a store do this. Always at the back of the store, yet the meat section - which oddly enough is also in a cold, refrigerated cooler or display, is ALWAYS much closer.
Of course the meats are closer to the deli, so when the meat expire and go bad, they snatch up the bad stuff, take them to the deli and make "fresh" meals to sell at 3 times the price it would have sold when fresh. (two can play the BS game)

The fake media BULLSHIAT they come up with...


I live in Louisiana, and two of my local groceries have small dairy cases at the front of the store. Milk, eggs, butter--not much, but it's convenient for those who just need to run in for basics.

However...you're right about the store making hot meals for sale. Although I try not to queson when my grocery has hot chicken and dumplings.
 
2014-07-28 05:42:07 AM  

picturescrazy: I want to know why peanut butter, jelly, ketchup, and mayonnaise are all in different areas. Mayonnaise is used on sandwiches a lot more than salads. I don't need to find it next to the ranch and thousand Island.


And ketchup needs to be in the back closer to the cooler section so it's easier to find when you buy hot dogs.
 
2014-07-28 05:44:41 AM  

MaxSupernova: picturescrazy: I want to know why peanut butter, jelly, ketchup, and mayonnaise are all in different areas. Mayonnaise is used on sandwiches a lot more than salads. I don't need to find it next to the ranch and thousand Island.

And ketchup needs to be in the back closer to the cooler section so it's easier to find when you buy hot dogs.


Fark collectively shakes our tiny fists at you! Well played sir.
 
2014-07-28 05:48:53 AM  
Yes, make them walk more ...

www.drphil.com
 
2014-07-28 05:50:05 AM  

TheMega: some grocery chains wouldn't have a small dairy cooler at the front of the store for people who need milk and are in a huge hurry

And they don't!

Been in stores from Fl to NY, to VA to WY.. Dakotas to TX.. WI to NV.. even up in Canada;  have NEVER seen a store do this. Always at the back of the store, yet the meat section - which oddly enough is also in a cold, refrigerated cooler or display, is ALWAYS much closer.
Of course the meats are closer to the deli, so when the meat expire and go bad, they snatch up the bad stuff, take them to the deli and make "fresh" meals to sell at 3 times the price it would have sold when fresh. (two can play the BS game)

The fake media BULLSHIAT they come up with...


It's St. Louis during the winter we have the bread, milk and egg panic buying aisle when anything more than an inch of snow is predicted. Once the forecast hits, klaxons start going off, red lights start flashing, tons of people start running around and in an amazing transformation an entire aisle is restocked in under 5 minutes with all the essentials.

/Toilet paper is put on an endcap.
 
2014-07-28 05:50:19 AM  

HotWingAgenda: My grocery store used to have the bread and the peanut butter and jelly together, about two aisles away from the milk. They did a big renovation recently, and in the process they just had to move the bread to the far side of the store, and move the peanut butter and jelly away from the bread.


Why does it have to be an either/or situation? Grocery stores in the US are huge. They could afford to carve out a little space in the fifty-foot bread aisle for a small display of the PB and J brands of the week. Do the same with pasta and pasta sauce, tuna and mayo, and other obvious things people often purchase together.
 
2014-07-28 05:50:27 AM  

Radak: SamFlagg: (Heck, I even worked in a store that stocked Bread and Milk in the same isle!)

Makes sense.  It would be dumb to have to take a boat trip just to get one of those.


This is what I get for 4 in the morning posts.

*tips hat*
 
2014-07-28 06:03:02 AM  

MrBallou: If the nefarious plans of the grocery store to subliminally trick you into grabbing two of every item in the store on your way to get a pint of half-n-half are the worst of your problems, you've got it pretty easy.

Impulse buys are for the weak minded.


Funny, I always figured that the wink-minded were the ones who had to tell themselves a fantasy about how their minds were super-logical and special and immune to things that work on every other Human on the planet.
 
2014-07-28 06:09:45 AM  

Radak: TheMega: Been in stores from Fl to NY, to VA to WY.. Dakotas to TX.. WI to NV.. even up in Canada;  have NEVER seen a store do this. Always at the back of the store, yet the meat section - which oddly enough is also in a cold, refrigerated cooler or display, is ALWAYS much closer.

I've seen milk in coolers right by the register, but only single serving size, along with various impulse buy sodas and whatnot.  I've never seen full size milk by the register.


I've seen a corner display with 1/2 gallons. They put the "breakfast of the week" promo in there.

Basically, it's the store trying to get people to eat something more expensive than cereal.
 
2014-07-28 06:12:50 AM  

kayanlau: Yes, make them walk more ...


Or just stop at the soda aisle and grab cream soda instead. Whatever.
 
2014-07-28 06:27:35 AM  

ciberido: MrBallou: If the nefarious plans of the grocery store to subliminally trick you into grabbing two of every item in the store on your way to get a pint of half-n-half are the worst of your problems, you've got it pretty easy.

Impulse buys are for the weak minded.

Funny, I always figured that the wink-minded were the ones who had to tell themselves a fantasy about how their minds were super-logical and special and immune to things that work on every other Human on the planet.


No mind is immune all the time. You have to actively make yourself avoid such traps or they'll get you every damn time. That's why you do it in your store.

It's like helmets. A direct hit to your head, even in a helmet, helmet will kill you just as dead as if you weren't wearing anything at all. But EVERYONE wears helmets because those direct hits are rare. More often than not, the helmet will deflect enough of the blow to turn a potential brain injury into ringing noise.
 
2014-07-28 06:29:50 AM  
Do enough people really go to a grocery store with a plan to just buy milk and only milk in the first place to plan store layout over it? Surely mostly you restock non-perishable stuff and so on anyway whenever you go in, so you are traveling through most of the shop already.
 
2014-07-28 06:34:45 AM  

TheMega: some grocery chains wouldn't have a small dairy cooler at the front of the store for people who need milk and are in a huge hurry

And they don't!

Been in stores from Fl to NY, to VA to WY.. Dakotas to TX.. WI to NV.. even up in Canada;  have NEVER seen a store do this. Always at the back of the store, yet the meat section - which oddly enough is also in a cold, refrigerated cooler or display, is ALWAYS much closer.
Of course the meats are closer to the deli, so when the meat expire and go bad, they snatch up the bad stuff, take them to the deli and make "fresh" meals to sell at 3 times the price it would have sold when fresh. (two can play the BS game)

The fake media BULLSHIAT they come up with...


My regular daily grocery store across the street from my apartment has one - right by the florist and pharmacy sections, so you can walk in, walk past the cooler, and be at the register with no hassle.

But they don't stock the cheaper store-brand milk in it, only more expensive milk and generally smaller bottles.  So if you want a gallon for cheap, it's to the back of the store with you.
 
2014-07-28 06:35:47 AM  
I thought it was put there to stop the cows from trying to get it back
 
2014-07-28 06:37:44 AM  

mr_a: And the reason that bread is always on the opposite side of the store from the milk is so the warm bread doesn't heat up the milk, right?


I worked in a grocery store for years. Bakery was right beside dairy.

This answer is nonsense. If milk were that perishable, how would you ever get it home?
 
2014-07-28 06:43:03 AM  

xria: Do enough people really go to a grocery store with a plan to just buy milk and only milk in the first place to plan store layout over it? Surely mostly you restock non-perishable stuff and so on anyway whenever you go in, so you are traveling through most of the shop already.


Not everyone limits their grocery shopping to once a month or whatever.

Most people in urban areas are strictly after extremely perishable items, quick snacks, and maybe some beer.
 
2014-07-28 06:46:44 AM  
Dairy products are quite perishable, and the people who handle milk during its journey from the cow to your cereal bowl want to preserve its shelf life. That's why you'll find dairy coolers at the back or on the side of a store.

Nonsense, dairy products these days can last forever. And thats a bad thing.
 
2014-07-28 06:56:01 AM  

robohobo: Doc Batarang: Radak: Yeah, I always figured it was at the back because of delivery access.

Now, department stores, on the other hand?  Those layouts are  evil.

Well they do department stores like that because of ghosts.

Who goes to department stores anymore? So many online options, many without ridiculous taxes. Seriously, Craigslist alone has so so many desperate folk, and you can find just about anything.


Can't find a hooker with meth at a department store. Well, maybe you could. But you probably wouldn't be shopping for one there.
 
2014-07-28 07:06:09 AM  
And yet no matter how quick it takes to actually do the shopping, it takes 3 times longer to get through the checkout.
 
2014-07-28 07:14:36 AM  
Never understood the supposed explanation of milk being in the back to make you wander the store. I no longer make big shopping trips, but there is no manner my Publix could set up the aisles which would not require me to travel the entire building three fourths of the time. Further, while no one goes to Publix simply for milk, who is impulse buying on a list of three or four items, on a list which might conceivably not have to walk everywhere? You impulse buy more often the less aware you are of what you need, and you become less aware the more items on a list since you do not remember them all.
 
2014-07-28 07:17:22 AM  
Butbutbut...ain't we sposed to not drink milk cause of lack toes an anti-botics an it's only for baby cows an shiat? I know i heard a lady say that. Right?
 
2014-07-28 07:19:07 AM  

doglover: The author of this article has never heard of "two birds, one stone" before.


Yeah, the Consumerist author doesn't seem to have actually listened to the podcast they based TFA on. I did, and the Planet Money guys ended up deciding it was for BOTH reasons... Both practical (preserving the cold chain) and psychological (so you have to walk through the store seeing all the other products for sale).

So basically, the Consumerist fails again.
 
2014-07-28 07:21:02 AM  
As someone who worked as a stock boy in a grocery store for a few years, I would suggest milk is put where it is for another reason: cutting back on required work. Milk has to be almost constantly restocked. It also is one of the heavier items in the store (especially in the boxes of six it comes in). Having someone wheeling milk to the front constantly would be impractical. It's a lot easier to have the milk in a large cooler where the excess stock can also be kept and easily put on the shelves when necessary.  A job that would take (say) ten minutes otherwise ends up taking two.

As someone said above, why grocery stores are the way they are is complicated, but in many cases "tricking the customer" is not the primary reason for things.
 
2014-07-28 07:22:07 AM  
This is why I always wait for a parking spot right at the front of the store. There ain't no way I'm going to walk an extra 30 feet when I have to do a half mile in the super walmart just for milk, bread and ammo.
 
2014-07-28 07:26:39 AM  

SamFlagg: GreenSun: The true reason why milk is far back:

You will walk through the store and see things you might want to BUY.

Milk is a very common item that almost everybody needs, so making a lot of people walk through shelves upon shelves of advertisements will most likely net them some extra sales.

You know how I know you didn't RTFA or ever work as someone who stocked groceries?

(Heck, I even worked in a store that stocked Bread and Milk in the same isle!)
(What I can't stand is trying to figure where a particular store houses Hershey's Syrup and Marshmallows. Marshmallows don't belong with the candy they belong right next to either graham crackers or hot chocolate!)


According to the Planet Money guys he isn't wrong, it's for both reasons. Click through to the Planet Money story the Consumerist was trying to summarize. It's worth a listen (I'm a regular listener of theirs) and Consumerist apparently stopped listening half way through.

They actually decided it was a tie, and milk is put back there for both reasons at the same time. It's really dumb that the Consumerist missed that... All they had to do was listen through to the end, but apparently that was too much for them.
 
2014-07-28 07:27:19 AM  
There are people who go to a store and only buy milk?
 
2014-07-28 07:34:02 AM  

mr_a: And the reason that bread is always on the opposite side of the store from the milk is so the warm bread doesn't heat up the milk, right?


In my wife's store, the bread shares the first isle with the dairy.  The fresh bakery dept. is usually far away from dairy and meat, but right next to deli.  I won't buy milk from the little cooler near the front, it seems to turn faster than milk bought from the large cooler.

/Besides, I'm sure the little cooler is a pain in the dairy clerks' sides so I'd rather make it easier on them.
//I do chat with my wife's coworkers and usually enjoy the dairy clerks.
 
2014-07-28 07:34:50 AM  
mr_a
And the reason that bread is always on the opposite side of the store from the milk is so the warm bread doesn't heat up the milk, right?


Well, there are also the ovens which are responsible for the warm bread and having the oven next to the fridges is bad design even for the kitchen at home...
But going by most of the shops that are a step above Aldi, I would say it's because
a) the dairy fridges are on the back or the side as the article says and
b) they've put in little bakeries near the entrance so you can pop in to get fresh rolls/cake/bread or a sandwich or a coffee without going through the store and waiting in line at a register behind someone buying two weeks worth of groceries; also, the bakery staff are the ones who restock the shelf with fresh bread and rolls throughout the day.

-------

Also, how often does it really happen that someone just needs to get some milk?
Maybe it's more common in the US, but I've never seen someone just buying milk or just milk and bread.

Going from the "just getting one thing" angle it would make more sense to put cigarettes, beer and booze at the back; but then again, the crowd going for (just) those things aren't likely to buy something else t the same time, e.g. teenagers stocking up on beer and cheetos on their way to a party Friday night are unlikely to get the vegetables and toilet paper from their parents' weekend shopping list while they're there.
 
2014-07-28 07:38:32 AM  

eiger: As someone who worked as a stock boy in a grocery store for a few years, I would suggest milk is put where it is for another reason: cutting back on required work. Milk has to be almost constantly restocked. It also is one of the heavier items in the store (especially in the boxes of six it comes in). Having someone wheeling milk to the front constantly would be impractical. It's a lot easier to have the milk in a large cooler where the excess stock can also be kept and easily put on the shelves when necessary.  A job that would take (say) ten minutes otherwise ends up taking two.

As someone said above, why grocery stores are the way they are is complicated, but in many cases "tricking the customer" is not the primary reason for things.


This.  I did the same job in high school.  It was a lot faster to send the 16 year old stock clerks in back, and have them move the milk straight from the pallet to the shelf rather than have them load up a hauler, wheel it out to the dairy cooler, block the isle while stocking a product that moves faster than any other,and then bring any leftover packaging back to the rear.
 
2014-07-28 07:38:40 AM  

TheMega: some grocery chains wouldn't have a small dairy cooler at the front of the store for people who need milk and are in a huge hurry

And they don't!

Been in stores from Fl to NY, to VA to WY.. Dakotas to TX.. WI to NV.. even up in Canada;  have NEVER seen a store do this. Always at the back of the store, yet the meat section - which oddly enough is also in a cold, refrigerated cooler or display, is ALWAYS much closer.
Of course the meats are closer to the deli, so when the meat expire and go bad, they snatch up the bad stuff, take them to the deli and make "fresh" meals to sell at 3 times the price it would have sold when fresh. (two can play the BS game)

The fake media BULLSHIAT they come up with...


Hy-Vee stores in Iowa do this (small cooler up front).
 
2014-07-28 07:41:25 AM  

BizarreMan: Next you're going to tell me that they really rearrange the entire store every few years week to make it more convenient for me and not to make me wander every damn aisle looking for things.


I'm looking at you, Smith's Markets. Make every trip to the grocery store a treasure hunt.

/asshats
 
2014-07-28 07:43:38 AM  
 Everyone knows that it's because stores want to make customers walk through the entire store so they'll pick up some non-milk items.

No, only the clinically depressed rage monkeys who write to the Consumerist think that.  The rest of us have an above kindergarten level understanding of logistics and refrigeration.
 
2014-07-28 07:45:41 AM  

assjuice: There are people who go to a store and only buy milk?


Only when there is talk of rain or snow.  And they buy all the milk.
 
2014-07-28 07:47:53 AM  

assjuice: There are people who go to a store and only buy milk?


They are called husbands on the way home from work.
 
2014-07-28 07:49:32 AM  
Should have beer and milk right by the checkouts so they stay colder longer in the cart.
 
2014-07-28 07:52:11 AM  

aerojockey: GreenSun: The true reason why milk is far back:

You will walk through the store and see things you might want to BUY.

Milk is a very common item that almost everybody needs, so making a lot of people walk through shelves upon shelves of advertisements will most likely net them some extra sales.

So why aren't all onions in the back of the store.


The same reason they are always in a bin at belt height.
 
2014-07-28 07:54:13 AM  
My guess as to the content of this article:

Reason everyone thinks: Giant refrigeration unit behind the milk

Real reason: To get you to walk through the store to reach it

*reads article*

Strike that, reverse it. Either way, those are the two most obvious reasons so I'm not sure why this needed an article.
 
2014-07-28 08:00:30 AM  
The story makes sense. Up until now, I thought it was because Obama.

/You learn something every day
 
2014-07-28 08:01:07 AM  
There is more conversation over the placement of milk than there is over the fact that milk causes cancer.

http://www.naturalnews.com/035081_pasteurized_milk_cancer_dairy.html

stealherstyle.net
 
2014-07-28 08:01:35 AM  
Let me guess.

Loss leader so you have to walk through Temptation Aisles before you reach it.
 
2014-07-28 08:01:58 AM  
I always assumed the first large store refrigerators were kept cool by ice, and that later, mechanical refrigerators made use of the existing fridge location. (plus the liquid water would be easier to dispose of by just dumping it out the back of the store.)
 
2014-07-28 08:04:35 AM  

thamike:  Everyone knows that it's because stores want to make customers walk through the entire store so they'll pick up some non-milk items.

No, only the clinically depressed rage monkeys who write to the Consumerist think that.  The rest of us have an above kindergarten level understanding of logistics and refrigeration.


That's slightly incorrect. It's actually for BOTH reasons.

The dullards who write for the Consumerist couldn't be bothered to listen to the whole Planet Money show they cribbed (and linked to) TFA from, but that was the conclusion Planet Money came to after consulting all the experts. It's for both reasons, and they were almost evenly split on it. They concluded it was too close to call, so you should figure it was for both reasons.

The Consumerist dropped the ball. Again.
 
2014-07-28 08:06:16 AM  

rooftop235: There is more conversation over the placement of milk than there is over the fact that milk causes cancer.

http://www.naturalnews.com/035081_pasteurized_milk_cancer_dairy.html


The hormones they are concerned about are found in every glass of milk regardless of source.
 
2014-07-28 08:09:34 AM  
PainInTheASP
Yeah, right. And the reason the most expensive grocery items are always at eye level is because that's the only place the packages fit on the shelves.


What really annoys me as a tall guy about having the common or best-selling stuff at (someone else's) eye level is that with clothing and shoes, the largest sizes always end up on the floor or on hangers/shelves ten inches above it; if they also have narrow aisles, I have to crawl across the floor when I'm looking _if_ they have socks or boxers in my size.
Honestly, if they've shelves and aren't just piling up boxes, it would be a lot more convenient to put the size 13+ shoes on a shelf at 7 feet even if they're out of reach for a shopper of standardized-60-years-ago height - and should there be a dwarf in need of clown shoes, there are always step ladders.
 
2014-07-28 08:11:07 AM  

SamFlagg: GreenSun: The true reason why milk is far back:

You will walk through the store and see things you might want to BUY.

Milk is a very common item that almost everybody needs, so making a lot of people walk through shelves upon shelves of advertisements will most likely net them some extra sales.

You know how I know you didn't RTFA or ever work as someone who stocked groceries?

(Heck, I even worked in a store that stocked Bread and Milk in the same isle!)
(What I can't stand is trying to figure where a particular store houses Hershey's Syrup and Marshmallows. Marshmallows don't belong with the candy they belong right next to either graham crackers or hot chocolate!)


baking aisle for marshmallows, syrup usually either ends up near the bread, near the milk, near the coffee, or on rare occasions in the cereal aisle.
 
2014-07-28 08:11:12 AM  
yes it is.
 
2014-07-28 08:11:38 AM  

The Voice of Doom: PainInTheASP
Yeah, right. And the reason the most expensive grocery items are always at eye level is because that's the only place the packages fit on the shelves.

What really annoys me as a tall guy about having the common or best-selling stuff at (someone else's) eye level is that with clothing and shoes, the largest sizes always end up on the floor or on hangers/shelves ten inches above it; if they also have narrow aisles, I have to crawl across the floor when I'm looking _if_ they have socks or boxers in my size.
Honestly, if they've shelves and aren't just piling up boxes, it would be a lot more convenient to put the size 13+ shoes on a shelf at 7 feet even if they're out of reach for a shopper of standardized-60-years-ago height - and should there be a dwarf in need of clown shoes, there are always step ladders.


Your newsletter. Etc., etc.
 
2014-07-28 08:14:00 AM  

The Voice of Doom: mr_a
And the reason that bread is always on the opposite side of the store from the milk is so the warm bread doesn't heat up the milk, right?

Well, there are also the ovens which are responsible for the warm bread and having the oven next to the fridges is bad design even for the kitchen at home...
But going by most of the shops that are a step above Aldi, I would say it's because
a) the dairy fridges are on the back or the side as the article says and
b) they've put in little bakeries near the entrance so you can pop in to get fresh rolls/cake/bread or a sandwich or a coffee without going through the store and waiting in line at a register behind someone buying two weeks worth of groceries; also, the bakery staff are the ones who restock the shelf with fresh bread and rolls throughout the day.

-------

Also, how often does it really happen that someone just needs to get some milk?
Maybe it's more common in the US, but I've never seen someone just buying milk or just milk and bread.

Going from the "just getting one thing" angle it would make more sense to put cigarettes, beer and booze at the back; but then again, the crowd going for (just) those things aren't likely to buy something else t the same time, e.g. teenagers stocking up on beer and cheetos on their way to a party Friday night are unlikely to get the vegetables and toilet paper from their parents' weekend shopping list while they're there.


I'd say the opposite is true.  Slightly toasted people have poor impulse control, are easily distracted, and will obsess.  So walking to the beer section, someone might walk past the chip aisle and go "Aww man, Doritos would be awesome!" and grab them.  Or (and sadly I have done this) grabbing a sixer on the way home from the bar "Hey! We should grill out!  I know it's 2am, but f*ck our neighbors I want food and Waffle House isn't here!"
 
2014-07-28 08:17:56 AM  
There's no excuse for a consumer not to be informed these days.

I won't shop Ikea, because I'm not cattle, to be forced through a maze.  When the grocery store puts up those little chains across the closed aisles, I'll unhook them and go the shortest route to the item I need, rather than being forced to detour through the dairy/bakery/produce maze.

I understand that the end displays and eye level shelves are set up with the highest profit items.  I'm not a slave to name brands.  I don't have a favorite player in Ford vs. Chevy.  I know that family size is no longer the same as economy size.

I walked out of a guitar shop the other day, because they didn't list the prices, and force you to ask for a price on every single one.  I know the purpose of the $400 blender isn't to be sold, but to make the $200 overpriced blender to look reasonable in comparison.

So TLDR version: If you can't walk to the back of a store, grab a gallon of milk, and walk to the register without being "tricked" into buying other items, you're a colossal fool.
 
2014-07-28 08:18:14 AM  

Land_of_the_Magic_Dragon: rooftop235: There is more conversation over the placement of milk than there is over the fact that milk causes cancer.

http://www.naturalnews.com/035081_pasteurized_milk_cancer_dairy.html

The hormones they are concerned about are found in every glass of milk regardless of source.


Yeah. Hormones are a big thing in early development in boys in and girls.
/Used to work at TG Lee and hung out with a couple of the lab folks who did QC on the amount of BGH that was in the tanks.
These days I do corporate events and doctors meetings. Pretty interesting how the chemicals in milk and other foods play out over twenty years.

/we will all have cancer.
 
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