How to choose the best checkout line at the Supermarket! 24



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There’s nothing worse than queuing up for too long at the supermarket, however one scientist has worked out the scientific art to avoiding large shopping line queues and is sharing it with us all!

According to ‘queuing theory’, the best line to join is something known as the serpentine line. This is one long winding line in which a number is called to send you to the next available register. It prevents one person from holding up an entire line if they take too long with their shopping.

Without a serpentine line, queuing theory claims that the odds are stacked against you in picking the fasting line. For instance, if there are three lines in a supermarket, delays will occur randomly at different registers. This means you only have one in three chance of being in the fastest line.

Despite this, many people have a natural aversion to picking the serpentine line because of the perception that it takes longer.

If there isn’t a serpentine line, then head for the left.

Raphael Rosen reports that because around 90 per cent of the population is right-handed, and so they tend to naturally head to the right.

‘This may be an old wives’ tale, but if you’re at a theme park with long lines, heading left is worth a try,’ he said in his book, Math Geek: From Klein Bottles to Chaos Theory, a Guide to the Nerdiest Math Facts, Theorems, and Equations.

And while it may not seem that way, waiting in line may not be such a bad thing. Scientists have previously found that people who queue place a higher value on the goods they are waiting for.

So there you have it – your annoying shopping dilemma solved!

Tell us, which line do you head towards? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I think the time you go shopping is a more accurate way of getting out of the checkout in the shortest possible time. What is the best time to shop?

    3 REPLY
  2. I am retired.
    I go shopping at times when it isn’t busy. I onky occasionally have problems having to wait in line for long periods. At those times I just figure that I have plenty of time so accept it.
    Today people are far too impatient. If you are in such a hurry then do the shopping at a different time.

  3. It all depends on what you want, if your working, food shopping is annoying, if your retired you can pick and choose your time and you may like busy shops the more people the better, there are a lot of single lonely people out there and it’s not so lonely when shopping and they can have a chat. I shop when I want I don’t mind crowds and love the busy markets most of the time.

  4. must have been the same scientist who did ‘research’ to tell us that it was cheaper to shop at Aldi’s?
    I generally don’t have any lucky when trying to choose the quickest checkout line.. I just smile and breathe cos there’s always a price check or some drama!
    I think the Universe/Spirit is teaching me patience

  5. I won’t use self serve as I think they could employ at least another 2 people. There are always 12 items or less queues if you have a small amount.

    1 REPLY
    • i will never use self service . doing people out of jobs .would rather pay extra to have a checkout person.

  6. Go to Happy Valley Foodland. As soon as there is 2 or more at a checkout they open up another. Never had to wait very long there.

  7. Ive been a checkout chick for years and the quietest time is when the parents are picking their kids up from school. after that its the busiest time and the noisiest when they bring them to the supermarket. After work is also very busy.

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