I am Begging You… Buy a Calculator… Please…
Every time I shop at local stores around my home I experience unbelievably long, time consuming lines at the checkout counter. If I travel farther from my home I still find long lines, but the wait time is much faster. So why are the lines near my home so unbelievably slow?
Could the problem be with store management? Perhaps the cashiers are new or inexperienced? No that couldn’t be the answer. Every time I go to the store the cashiers are the same. Could the problem be the cashier to customer ratio? Does the store not hire enough cashiers to care for the number of customers? No that isn’t the problem either. When I go to similar stores I count the number of cashiers to customers, and find that the number of active cashiers is the same, or sometimes even fewer. So why do the lines at those stores move so much faster than the lines at stores near my home? Well years after living in this area I have finally discovered the answer.
The slow moving checkout line is entirely related to the customers themselves. The problem almost always comes at the end of the checkout transaction when the cashier presents the final price to the shopper. The shopper looks at the price on the register then down at the cash in their hand. Inevitably, he or she just doesn’t have the money to pay for all of the items. So the shopper will ask the cashier to begin removing items from the register. Of course, they spend a few minutes deciding which items to remove. They pick up various items and look at the price tags. They search through packed bags in the cart or riffle through items on the counter, asking the cashier to rescan certain items and add back others. Each time the cashier presents a new total the consumer realizes he/she still does not have enough money, so he/she riffles back through the rugs, baby clothes, sweaters, toys, etc. to find another item to discard. This scenario can take anywhere from a minute or two to ten to fifteen minutes to resolve. I have witnessed this same exact scenario with five different shoppers in my last five shopping trips at local stores.
I live in a relatively low-income area and I have noticed that many of the shoppers around me pay entirely in cash. It’s clear that these customers simply aren’t keeping tabs of the price of items in their shopping cart, so when they reach the register they have many more items than they can afford. I am begging my fellow shoppers… please… please… please… buy a calculator and keep track of the cost of your items while you shop. Otherwise I’m afraid I will have to start boycotting the stores in my neighborhood. I can no longer bear to waste my life standing in line.
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