Many grocery store shoppers know that getting through a simple list can be a time-consuming venture.
“It’s almost like whoever designed the layout of the store is actually trying to trick us into staying inside of it longer,” writes Rick Paulas at The Pacific Standard. “Rather than following a pre-determined path to obtain your items in an efficient manner, you criss-cross the same aisles over and over, over and over, until you finally give up and mope to the check-out.”
Paulas spoke to store designers to find out the reason behind the clunky designs of major grocers.
“In the past, supermarkets had this mentality of getting someone in the store and getting them lost in there,” Brad Knab of Mehmert Store Designs told Paulas, who notes that many retailers are starting to invest in building smaller-format stores that are less confusing for the consumer.
Paulas compares the current design of many grocery stores to a casino.
“There are lights and sounds that re-focus attention every micro-second, carpet on the ground to offer cushion for our feet, an open-flow space from the slot machines to the poker tables to the roulette,” he writes. “But what’s more important is what’s not there: clocks on the wall, bathrooms, escape routes. The reason is obvious — can’t spend money if you’re not present — and they point toward why supermarkets attempted to get their customers lost.”
Stores are also notorious for putting staples like milk and eggs at the back of the store, which increases the chance of the shopper encountering something they didn’t originally intend to buy.
Impulse purchases at the grocery store ultimately lead to food being wasted — it’s estimated that up to 40% of the food Americans buy gets thrown away.
But as competition increases, stores are increasingly focused on making shopping more convenient for the consumer.
Retailers like Walmart and Target are building smaller-format locations over huge warehouses that make shopping more efficient.
Grocery store chain Kroger also just launched a service that lets shoppers select a list and get groceries delivered to their car at a specified time.
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