Standing in the line? Here’s how to avoid it



One of the inevitable laws of mankind is that the other checkout line always goes faster. And professor Richard Larson has estimated that Americans spend 37 billion hours per year waiting in lines. This is time lost without productive exercising, staring into space… and at least smartphones allow us to occupy our minds with something. But well, there are a couple of methods to save time waiting in lines.

First, follow the people with larger carts rather than lines of people with smaller baskets. It sounds a bit counter-intuitive, but it makes sense. Look at it this way: each ware takes a second or two to check out, but you lose more time to find cash or card, pay, bag the thing… So you should follow one person with a full cart than three people with smaller baskets. That’s right – the express line is a sham!

People in stores tend to be right handed, so they go from the left-most stand to the right. You should do the opposite and pick the last line. This might seem sexist, but it seems that women cashiers are more organized and expedient. That’s not a problem – a male cashier, especially a young one is probably far less experienced, looking for any job. An older female cashier tends to be more experienced.

Take a look at other customers and what they have in their baskets – standing behind older people will take some more time because they might be unfamiliar with debit cards or wanting to use coupons. People with a lot of the same product will take less time – if they have 4 cans of the same beer it’ll take less time than 4 different beers. And vegetables and fruit often have to be weighted on the spot.

And many stores understand this – they offer self-service checkout, or a single line leading to several cashiers, like seen at airports and banks. It saves time and is more convenient for the customers.

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