8 Tips for Faster Checkout at the Grocery Store

“Time is Money.”

Source: Wikipedia

It’s such a simple saying that we’ve all heard at some point in our lives. Yet how often do we actually think about the time we waste doing silly things like sleeping in, sitting on the toilet, waiting at traffic lights, doing chores, surfing the internet, etc.? Over the years, that time really adds up.

It is estimated that we spend approximately FIVE YEARS of our lives waiting in line – whether it’s at the bank, the DMV, the post office, the grocery store, or hundreds of other places. Some long waits are inevitable, and we just have to be patient. However, others can be greatly reduced.

Here are eight simple ways to reduce your wait time at the grocery store:

1. Choose the shortest line.
This seems obvious – however, it can be very tempting to go straight to the express lanes no matter how many people are waiting in them. Even if each person only has a few items, more people means a longer wait (due to the time it takes each one to pay).

2. Avoid self-checkout lanes.
These things are supposed to be more convenient, but really they take forever because nobody seems to know how to use them. Even if you’re the only one in line, you run the risk of getting hung up on stupid errors like “please place item in the bagging area” or needing to show ID for things like alcohol, video games, cough syrup and WD-40.

3. Avoid cashiers in training, especially if you have unmarked produce.
It must stink to have people purposely avoid your lane due to the giant “Cashier in Training” sign, but trainees are notoriously slow and more likely to make mistakes. The most common mistakes are bagging things in the wrong order, or forgetting to scan items below the cart. A lot of new cashiers also won’t recognize unmarked produce, which needs to be input manually. (Seriously, why doesn’t anybody know what a lime is anymore?)

4. Put items in the order you want them bagged and loaded.
It may sound weird, but I’ve gotten into the habit of unloading my cart in order from heaviest to lightest, grouping similar items together for easier bagging. This limits the number of decisions the cashier has to make and ensures that your fragile items are always on top.

5. Input your phone number for the loyalty program, instead of scanning a key tag.
It may seem like a little extra effort for you, but it can be done without disrupting the cashier. Standing around and waiting for the cashier to scan your key tag wastes time, especially if the scanner doesn’t read the barcode right away.

6. Keep it simple.
Do you really need all of your items individually bagged? Or sorted by color? Any additional requests beyond the basics are going to waste valuable time, so keep them to a minimum if possible.

7. Use your credit or debit card. Please.
Cash is okay as long as you don’t have to fish through your wallet for change. However, I still cannot fathom why people under the age of 70 still pay for groceries by check. It’s slow and completely unnecessary. If you spot someone in line ahead of you with a checkbook, consider switching lanes.

8. Ask the manager to open another lane.
Assuming they are well-staffed, most stores are happy to open an additional checkout line to move things along when they are crowded – and if you ask, you’re very likely to be at the front of the new line.

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