Whole Foods Adopts Bank-Style Checkout Lines

Whole Foods in Manhattan has made checkout line races a thing of the past by adopting newfangled bank-style checkout lanes. The new system queues shoppers in a single line, directing them to checkout counters as cashiers become available.

The single-line, bank-style system was quickly chosen for its statistical efficiency. Then, Whole Foods paired the system with possibly the largest number of registers in the city, more than 30 per store, and it hired an army of cashiers to staff them throughout the day (including “floaters” to fill in for those who need a break).

The result is one of the fastest grocery store lines in the city. An admittedly unscientific survey by this reporter found that at peak shopping times — Sunday, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. — a line at Whole Foods checked out a person every 4.5 seconds, compared with 19.6 seconds for a line at Trader Joe’s.

Even without extra cashiers, the new system ensures that shoppers will never get stuck behind coin-fishers and coupon-cutters. Some grocers are already experiencing checkout-line envy, making us hopeful that the snazzy new lines will soon appear in rival stores. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

A Long Line for a Shorter Wait at the Supermarket [NYT]
(Photo: hyku)

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  1. rbb says:

    Yawn… Military commissairies have been doing this for years.

  2. DeeJayQueue says:

    I got to experience this in person last weekend. It’s absolutely wonderful. There are 3 queues, and they flash your queue and then tell you what number to go to, which flashes for a second. They had about 10 cashiers going at once, and everyone moved very quickly through the line. I don’t know how well this would work on a “full scale” shopping trip since the registers were more like counters than the traditional conveyor belt setup. Most everyone there was just picking up a couple of things, so it worked out quite well.

  3. mantari says:

    OMG! WANT.

  4. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    @rbb: Too bad you had to be in the army to take advantage. Although I’d rather enlist than live in Manhattan.

  5. VA_White says:

    @rbb:

    You beat me to it! I like the commissary-style lines much better than the Safeway/Kroger style.

    Ours even has a big display that flashes the number of the next open checkout and shouts “NEXT PLEASE!” so you don’t even have to decide where to go. Just look at the board.

    I just can’t believe more stores haven’t caught onto this yet.

  6. JBorn says:

    Good plan, but not a new idea – many of the grocery chains in the UK have been doing this for years, especially in the smaller local shops they have in urban areas. It works very well when space for lines is at a premium. Whole Foods just opened their first store in London (Kensington High Street), and it’s quite possible they got the idea from the market research they were doing there.

  7. ironchef says:

    they have this at Fry’s electronics and Best Buy for years with mixed success.
    it might be fine in theory. But during high volume days like the holidays…the lines wrap literally around the store several times over and the checkout times are several hours.

    Now if they have express lines with it, I’d be more for it.

  8. groupie says:

    @dburba: I’d rather live in Manhattan than enlist.

    That is the one good thing about Whole Foods. During my lunch hour, I can be in and out of the store in less than 10 minutes even with 37 other people in line ahead of me.

  9. joemono says:

    This is something I wish movie theater concession stands would do.

  10. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @VA_White: You and RBB are correct, don’t know why we can’t do this in the ‘real world’
    Those lines seemed like a PITA at first, but once you were used to them, they were actually much quicker than playing cashier roulette down at the Publix :)

  11. reznicek111 says:

    Considering how pricey Whole (Paycheck) Foods is in general, I’m glad to hear they are making this change. Cool.

  12. Fry’s has been doing this since always. A line can be wrapped around the whole bloody store, and you’re still through it in about 10 or 20 minutes.

  13. Hawk07 says:

    @rbb:

    Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say. The bases have been doing that for as long as I can remember.

  14. acambras says:

    I like this idea. Under the conventional system, I invariably end up in the slowest line. I try to size up each line (Do the customers have lots of groceries? Does the cashier look really slow?). I’ve even gone to Register 13, in hopes that the superstitious customers will avoid that one. But I always end up in the slowest damn line.

  15. AcidReign says:

    &nbsp &nbsp Most folks can’t afford to buy their big weekly groceries at Whole Foods, unless they’re single and/or very well off. Great stuff there, but but using that place to buy staples like butter and milk would put me in debt.

    &nbsp &nbsp If Walmart were to do this, you’d have all 20 lines jammed with folks arguing about what food-stamps can be used for. I tend to either find an empty self-service line, or look for a line of folks with small loads.

  16. krunk4ever says:

    @spiderjerusalem: was just going to also post Fry’s has been doing the exact same thing for ages.

  17. TPIRman says:

    Whole Foods has been doing this for ages, as well. At least the one I shop at, the Columbus Circle store, has done it this way since it 2003 when it opened. I’ve never been to other Whole Foods so I had no idea this wasn’t standard across the board. As other commenters have noted, it ought to be. The line does move incredibly quickly.

    I don’t know what store DeeJayQueue is describing — maybe the new Union Square Whole Foods? — but the one in Columbus Circle just has an express “10-items-or-less” line and a line for larger baskets/carts. They both move at a good clip.

    Here’s a related, lesser-known trick in the Columbus Circle Whole Foods: if you have only three or four items that don’t need to be weighed, you can just check out at the sushi bar or the coffee bar, skipping the registers entirely.

  18. TPIRman says:

    *”since 2003,” not “since it 2003″

  19. lucidpsyche says:

    Borders bookstore also does this…

  20. Lordstrom says:

    I can’t stand being stuck behind women who write checks. It’s incredibly inconsiderate to write a check at a place like a grocery store where lines have formed and people have better places to be than waiting for a woman to write a check for ten freakin dollars.

    GET A DEBIT CARD. OR, GOD FORBID, USE CASH.

  21. VA_White says:

    The Fry’s by my house does not do single line. It stinks. I hate going there.

    And, for whomever asked, the military commissary also does a separate express lane. It works out much better. I got through the grocery line today in less than 10 minutes, the place was packed, and they had all 20 checkouts open. Coolness.

  22. ThePlaz says:

    Best Buy does this for the holidays. I don’t know why they don’t do it other times. It seems to work best when there is a lot of people wanting to check pout (high traffic lunch times). But wandering through the ropes are a pain when there is no line.

    Jo-Ann crafts does it too in their new store. They got mad at me when I tried to bypass the queue thing, even when the cashier was empty. Plus it’s a good chance to sell extra stuff as you wander by it.

  23. sarkathstic says:

    @lorddave: Are men very efficient check-writers where you shop, or do you just like to harp on women whenever possible?

  24. acambras says:

    @lorddave:

    Yeah, lorddave, that’s pretty sexist.

  25. chrisgoh says:

    Honestly, I can’t recall seeing a man write a check in a store in YEARS.

  26. backspinner says:

    The Whole Foods flagship in Austin has had this system going at one of their checkout stations for as long as I can remember. It really does make things move quicker.

  27. TWinter says:

    I’m with crisgoh – you almost never see men writing checks.

    I suspect this has something to do with the fact that men don’t have purses to keep their checkbooks with them all the time and thus get in the habit of using cash or cards.

  28. acambras says:

    @chrisgoh:
    @TWinter:

    Maybe it’s because in many households, women do the grocery shopping.

  29. TWinter says:

    @acambras: That’s certainly part of it. There’s also an age factor, young women don’t write checks in stores either. It’s mostly women over 50.

  30. PlayWithSlurry says:

    When I lived in England for a year, I found people queued like this automatically whenever the opportunity presented. I’ve heard various theories explaining it-that it’s a vestige of wartime and Austerity rationing or just the inbred British love of good order. But what really needs explaining is why people ever line up in the traditional, American arbitrary manner.

  31. VA_White says:

    I’ll take a check writer any day over a shopper with 150 coupons, a wad of rumpled cash, and a pouch of pennies. These are the idiots who will argue for twenty minutes over 30-cents off corndogs. Makes me wish I had a taser in my purse.

  32. agent2600 says:

    the system there works GREAT even when there are 50 people in line you never have to wait that long…now only if trader joes down the street could get it right….

  33. PandemicSoul says:

    Thank god. I always wonder, when I’m in “the slow line” why places don’t just adopt this single-line idea and help us all avoid serious frustration that other people get lucky and walk into a short line, while I’m stuck behind the blue-hair writing out her check. Kudos to Whole Foods and Best Buy (who also use this system) for their forward thinking, and actually taking care of the customer’s frustrations. Hopefully other stores will catch on to this simple change and make all of our lives easier.

  34. Oh yeah. I just remembered, in Ireland, they have this chain called Argos, and its like…you get an Argos catalogue like it was a phonebook for your house, and you go into the store, and fill out a card with the serial numbers you want, then wait in line and pay for it, then they give you a number and get your order together. It was kind of weird the first time I went in, but it really streamlined stuff, and cut down on impulse buying.

  35. seawallrunner says:

    Urban Fare, in Vancouver BC, has this system as well.

  36. deweydecimated says:

    @ThePlaz:

    on the rare times that i go into best buy, i feel like they do everything in their power to keep their register lines painfully slow, increasing the odds that a customer will get distracted and wander around the store some more, adding a few more items on the way back to the register.

    (back to grocery stores)
    as someone who once got stuck behind a woman arguing with a cashier for (what felt like) ten minutes that she shouldn’t have to pay for that bottle of salad dressing because it’s labelled “Kraft FREE”, oh man i hope more stores adopt this method.

  37. azntg says:

    I dunno why the New York Times makes this sound like a new concept, especially since Whole Foods in Columbus Circle (NYC) has been doing this since it opened a few years ago!

    Now only if my local Pathmark would follow suit… then I wouldn’t have to make fun of their slogans they’ve recently posted throughout the stores. “Path to Long Lines!”

  38. A_B says:

    Several years ago (i.e., I can’t find it in Google ATM), I read an article that compared the traditional “multi-line”, every person for themselves system, versus the “bank- style.” They found that while it was overall faster to do the multi-line system, the advantage of the bank system was the _perception_ that it was faster, and, obviously, the reduced frustration of watching one line zip along while you’re standing behind somebody fumbling with their checkbook.

    As for NYC Whole Foods, like Johnny says above, Whole Foods has been using the “bank-style” since they came to NYC. The Whole Foods on the West Side, 24th or 25th St. does and it has been there for at least 5 years. IIRC, the Union Square location does as well. I’d be shocked if the new one on Houston does not.

    Trader Joes, on 14th, uses the bank-style system as well. There, the lines are just stupid. The store is so small and it’s so popular, that it will extend along 80% of the outer wall. They have a guy standing with a sign indicating where the end of the line is.

  39. TechnoDestructo says:

    @rbb:

    Most supermarkets haven’t though, and it’s fucking infuriating. Especially with self-checkouts.

    At the local Walmart, you get people lining up for individual registers, invariably. At the Smith’s next door, people are usually smart enough to form one queue.

    Even if it doesn’t average out to be faster (I think it probably does, but even if it doesn’t) it almost completely eliminates the “GODDAMMIT YOU KNEW YOU COULDNT BUY THAT WITH FOOD STAMPS” frustration.

  40. zolielo says:

    Like many other in this thread, I too have been in a single line that wrapped around Fry’s several times, blocking off sections of the store, allowing cuts, or false lines.

    Not fun…

  41. TechnoDestructo says:

    @zolielo:
    Yeah, but it moves like 20 times as fast as other lines.

  42. Buran says:

    Fast? Tell that to the bank I went to the other day where the guy in front of me stepped right up to a teller as soon as he walked in and I had to wait 15 minutes and the two people behind me were pulled out of line by one of the people behind one of the desks. I stood there waiting and waiting and there was a teller spot that sat closed and untouched while two guys behind the counter served 10 people in cars that drove up after I arrived.

    Fast?

    Nope.

  43. Buran says:

    @lorddave: If y our life sucks that badly that you can’t wait for ten minutes, you’ve got bigger problems.

  44. Michael says:

    This is common, although not ubiquitous, in Britain. I can’t say whether it’s any better or worse than the other system.

  45. EtherealStrife says:

    @Buran: I don’t know about Whole Foods, but at Fry’s they have the checkout counters completely blocked off (except for a guarded exit, and the manned entrance). Works great, especially during busy days when they open up all 40 something counters and the line is moving at almost walking pace. Occasionally you’ll have some idiot go to the wrong counter, but most of the time the customers understand their numeric assignment and don’t have a problem with it.

    1————–counters————-40 |
    __________partition_________ . |
    back#of#line##########front |
    _________partition___________ |

  46. WTRickman says:

    It really makes the lines look too long… as a matter of fact, the first couple times I saw the concept at Best Buy, I just laid down my purchase and walked out.

  47. ShadowFalls says:

    Super Walmart already does this for 20 items or less, and the line moves fast in comparison. It is more of an issue with people that buy an entire month’s groceries in one trip.

  48. Her Grace says:

    This is how a number of Australian supermarkets work, as well. At the very least, they do it for the X-items or less/express lanes in most places. It’s really awesome.

  49. Man, I don’t know why EVERY store with checkout lines doesn’t do this. It’s dramatically faster. COME ON, KROGER!

  50. ReverseCarpetbagging says:

    When you first stand in line, you’re wondering what the heck is going on, but as the system gets going, you’re scratching your head, wondering why this system isn’t in place at other stores like Target, etc. It’s also fun just to stare at the large screen, wondering when they’ll call your color.

  51. aishel says:

    I’ve seen Best Buy do this. The problem was that there was only one check out guy, so it didn’t really help.

  52. DeeJayQueue says:

    @Johnny: I’m talking about the Wholefoods on 7th ave between 24th and 25th streets.

  53. @acambras: to add to the sexism, who waits until the bill is totaled before digging into their pocketbook and then begins looking for a pen?

    the Fry’s problem is the lack of checkout people + constant supervisory call outs.

    @TechnoDestructo: Sorry, my ADHD kicks in and I forget why I’m there.

  54. savvy9999 says:

    When I lived in East and Central Texas in the 90s, it was quite common to see a man write out a check at the grocery store. Lots of men had rather large tooled-leather wallets that held their checkbook, credit cards, id, etc.

    As a Yankee I thought it was kinda weird to carry around a big honkin’ man-purse and purposefully make life more complicated by dealing with checks every day, but hey, whatever. To each his or her own.

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  56. k8supergrover says:

    One more time with the “In Canada…..” quite a few chains already do this (rabba, some sobey’s stores etc) but they don’t really tell you that they are doing it so people who aren’t in the know are always confused. Although, it IS canada, so we just politely tell them how the system works…..

  57. lilyHaze says:

    The single line always seems to be faster. I hate playing Russian roulette, and I inevitably end up behind the check writer or the multiple coupons.

    However, as a single household shopper (few items to buy), I will always appreciate the express and self-checkout lanes.

    I was so annoyed that a local Costco got rid of (or at least temporarily blocked) their self-checkout lanes.

  58. kerry says:

    @AcidReign: Not sure that’s so true, I think you have to be a really smart shopper to make it work, though. I was at Whole Foods this past Saturday and the woman in front of me bought at least 2 weeks worth of food and paid for it with food stamps.

  59. aishel says:

    @savvy9999: Do you watch the Office? If you look at Season 1, Episode 6, you’ll see that according to GQ, men carrying purses is the newest “in thing.”

  60. madktdisease says:

    I love this system, they have it at Marshall’s in Danviz, MA.

    The other thing I like about it is that I don’t feel rushed if I want to fish out 4 pennies from my change purse – or if I want to question something that’s legitimately priced wrong. I shouldn’t feel like I’m being a total asshole for calling a store on something that’s illegal.

  61. zolielo says:

    @TechnoDestructo: It is hard for me to say faster as I have nothing to compare it to – never been to a Fry’s that did not have a single line queuing system.

    What I would suggest is that for the significant backup days that Fry’s mark the ground with colored tape or similar as to form a temporary lane. Not just have the lane form as it will

  62. HearsMusic says:

    Kind of unfair, for a site that tells us how to save money quite often, this post mentions getting “stuck” behind a coupon-cutter.

    I use coupons for many of the items I buy, and I’m not one of those people who will buy something just because I have a coupon. I realize that I will save more money by not buying something I don’t need in the first place, so I only use coupons for things I’m planning on buying anyway.

    I keep them organized in a little binder just for coupons, and when I reach the checkout I give them to the cashier immediately without any fumbling around. Anytime I have a coupon for a free item I put it at the very end of the conveyor so the cashier doesn’t have to look through the entire receipt for the price to enter.

    Sure, not everyone wants to go to the trouble of clipping and using coupons, but I try to make it as painless as possible for the person behind me. Last grocery trip I saved $20, which is totally worth the few minutes it takes to cut, sort and file coupons.

    /soapbox

  63. emjsea says:

    We have this system at the new downtown Super Fresh in Baltimore (which happens to be on the first floor of the high-rise building I live in… sweet). It works great, and, yes, you don’t have to play roulette with which line you get in and get stuck behind an idiot that can use an ATM card or has to write a check or bitch about a price being 5 cents off.

  64. @lilyHaze: “The single line always seems to be faster.”

    It IS faster. There are studies. It mitigates the overall impact of a single bad cashier or a single slow customer, as well as single-register computer failures or problems and slow management response to cashier requests.

    (Also things like register tape changes, stuck drawers, price disputes, price checks, complicated returns, etc. etc. etc.)

  65. zolielo says:

    Queuing theory aside throughput has to be a direct product of proper implementation: scale, scope, bounds, and command plus control.

  66. eli_b says:

    I don’t know, some of the Krogers I go to have the same thing in a way, one line open and 350,000 people in one line that stretches down the shopping aisle.

  67. dhmiller says:

    A single line is neither “faster” nor “slower” than multiple lines, on average. How could it be? The throughput of the checkout process (taken as a whole) only depends on the number of cashiers and the duration of each transaction. Doesn’t matter (almost; see below) how you line up in front of the cashiers.

    Now, having a single line AVERAGES out the waiting for everyone. The really slow transaction slows down everyone in the single line a little, instead of just the people in the individual line a lot. Same for fast transaction. It may be that people dislike the slower transactions more than they like the faster ones, so there is a psychological gain.

    However, there is a small net slowdown to a single line, if the next person sent to the cashier isn’t sent soon enough to load the conveyor belt while the previous transaction is still taking place.

  68. Mary says:

    I read the article one poster mentioned (well, at least an article that was eerily similar) and it actually decided in the end that in stores where people were buying only a few things, like a convenience store or a drug store, the individual line was better.

    But their conclusion was actually that for MOST stores, the bank line was in fact faster and more efficient. They mentioned Borders by name, which is why I was drawn to the article since that was who I worked for.

    The only time the bank line system breaks down and is a problem is when you have people who won’t follow it and can’t understand it. I know it seems impossible, but there are people who just don’t get that when it says “Line starts here” and “please wait for next available cashier” it means stand there until a person says “Next in line please!”

    No, they stand behind people, they stand at empty registers, they come up the wrong end of the registers and expect you to help them next even though there were four people there ahead of them…

    Other reasons I prefer bank lines:
    -My personal space is slightly more respected. I hate people breathing down my neck while I’m in line.
    -Other people can’t stand there and critique if I’m using coupons or being difficult. This is especially nice at Borders because as an employee I have several different processes I have to go through, and often I end up rung up by a trainee and I have to walk them through the transaction. I don’t want somebody behind me while I do this.
    -If you have a cashier who is abysmally slow, they do less damage. As long as you have one other person there to sweep through three customers to their one, then the line doesn’t build up like it could.
    -You don’t have to deal with customers huffing off to alternate lines and then complaining when that one stops moving.

    Bank lines are much much better than the standard system I think, but I also have a fine time at my grocery store because they never let the lines get more than two people deep. Harris Teeter for the win. I can pick any line I like, and no matter what happens in front of me I know I’ll get out of there at a reasonable rate, and they’ll put my groceries in the car for me.

    As for checks…first, and foremost there are still banks out there that do not have debit cards. I know, it’s impossible to imagine, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes!

    Sometimes, people even forget their debit cards but have their checkbooks.

    Also, as a retail employee, I can say I see just as many men as women writing checks.

    Though I will say that anybody who doesn’t start writing the check as soon as possible, to only fill in the amount after they hit total, needs to go back to common courtesy camp.

  69. Gloria says:

    Man-purses make sense … the modern man might be carrying his wallet, his cellphone, his generic mp3 player, maybe his digital camera, maybe his Blackberry. Sure, in the summertime, you can put them in your pants pockets (if you’re wearing cargo pants) but it just doesn’t look very elegant.

    Seriously, though, it’s almost like the entire clothing industry conspires to make women carry purses. None of the pants I wear have decently sized pockets, and the fashion for women to wear very close-fitting pants also means that I can’t carry anything thicker than a credit card without looking like I’d grown a tumour.

    The last person I encountered writing a check was a man … very well-dressed, middle-aged with his daughter looking on, appearing hassled and embarrassed as he scribbled one out. That was years ago.

  70. eli_b says:

    I haven’t seen a man write a check at a store in many years, good point.

  71. Karunamon says:

    Common courtesy FTW.. if you insist on writing a check, at least fill in the to: line and sign and date it before you get to the checkout stand.

    Furthermore, if you’re going to use coupons, have them in order before you get to the checkout. Nothing’s more infuriating than watching someone dig through their wallet for 5 minutes just to dig up a couple of 50 cent off coupons and change.

    This is kinda a small town here, but less and less people are accepting checks.. reminds me of that visa commercial…

  72. stubar says:

    Just to add, the Trader Joe’s in DC (Foggy Bottom/West End) uses the bank line system, which I do love until I make the abysmal decision to go on a Sunday afternoon. But they do give you cookies and fresh fruit, and the last stretch takes you right by the sample counter and the wall of wine. Amazing!

  73. alicetheowl says:

    It’s bound to make for less grumpy cashiers, as well. Having served my time on the other side of the counter, I can tell you a number of stories involving a full bladder or sudden onset of food poisoning, with nothing to do about it until the dratted customers went away. It did not make me all sunshine and roses, let me tell you, especially when I’d finally shooed away my line, only to have another person delightedly approach me, chortling about how smart she was for avoiding the line at the other registers.

    Of course, I know now that the store where I worked should’ve had a better system that didn’t leave me stuck as I was turning green, but at the time, it was the customers who bore the brunt of my “go away” vibes.

    Taking the pressure off the cashiers is bound to improve the moods of said cashiers, and make it easier for them to give good customer service. It also gives them time to listen to their customers, rather than shuffle them through just to keep the line moving.

  74. @agent2600:

    The one in D.C. does!

    It’s the fastest grocery line I’ve ever been in! Even when it’s clear to the back of the store, it never stops moving.

  75. consumerist11211 says:

    @dhmiller: Agreed…I was going to say the same thing. I go to the whole paycheck foods in union square and I still find the wait terribly long and people particularly uncivilized being all bunched up together like that.

    I like that it averages out everyones wait time but the wait time at union square WF is still way too long…

  76. jeff303 says:

    Which method you prefer depends on whether you are trying to optimize throughput (traditional lines) or response time (single line to multiple checkouts). The former has a better throughput because an individual checker is never idle. The latter has a better response time (minimum and average) because one slow job doesn’t block the entire batch.

  77. dextrone says:

    This is funny what century was this article— Did ANYONE goto B&H in NYC….
    (bandh.com)
    That store is amazing…..they’re crowded + organized + great+ GREAT customer service+ No ~5th AVE like stuff….+ {personally} one of the most efficient stores in the world…

    They have a system where you :
    1> Place your order ~almost anywhere in the store
    2>Get A receipt
    3>Goto payment counters where the system is as above
    4>Goto pickup counter{as above}
    5>Be amazed by their over-head system of {go there and find out your self*this is the main part*go there your self}…..

  78. Brazell says:

    This is all contradicting my great hypothesis on supermarkets, which is why I have always despised them… and suggested others do the same. Supermarkets are one of the few stores where people go into them only when they have to, or want to, buy something. Nobody goes into the supermarket just to browse, everybody plans on buying something… so they have you as soon as you walk in and there is no escaping their nefarious lines. They just milk you for time and make you wait endlessly, costing them nothing because you have to buy something; you’re going to buy something. It is infuriating.

    THis changes everything… and while one might guess that I would like it because I hate Super Market lines, I’m going to disagree and say that I dislike it because I’d prefer to be able to continue criticizing supermarkets, rather than actually be convenienced.

  79. kimsama says:

    @krylonultraflat: Yeah, it moves pretty fast in DC, but argh, it’s so annoying when I go in to buy like one item for lunch, and I have to wait behind a bunch of GW students/their parents or stay-at-home-moms buying absolute cartloads of stuff (it’s less bad now that the students are gone for the summer, though).

    Seriously, they still should have a 5-item-or-less lane even when there’s bank-checkout. I don’t know why few-item buyers should be lumped in with everyone else.

  80. Wasabe says:

    It’s a really simple insight from queuing theory that a single line will move faster than multiple lines, regardless of whether there is one cashier or multiple cashiers. I remember when I lived close enough to shop at WF in Union Square, they had basically the same system but with two or three separate lines, so as a register opened up they would send out someone from one line, then someone from the other, then back to the first, etc. It was kind of ridiculous.

  81. Mary says:

    @MichaelBrazell: You don’t shop at Harris Teeter do you? They’re not the cheapest or most expensive supermarket around by far, but I’ve never had a single bad experience in their stores, unless you count kids on Heelys. But they just banned those and are enforcing the restriction because I haven’t seen a wheeled kid since.

    Of course, they only exist in a relatively small area. My husband had this great HT loyalty I never understood because there wasn’t one in my hometown. Then we moved to within a block of one, and I completly understand.