Social Question

Judi's avatar

If you work or have worked in a grocery store, have you noticed trends in what people put in their basket and the way they look?

Asked by Judi (39833points) April 5th, 2011 from iPhone

I was just thinking about the change in my shopping habits since I changed to a healthier lifestyle. I sometimes feel proud to go through the line with a basket full of fruits and vegetables and think about how my basket probably has ¼ or less the calories it used to.
It makes me wonder what assumptions grocery clerks can make about people based on what they see in their grocery carts. Especially repeat customers when they see habits forming.

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11 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

“Why, here comes John in my grocery line. And look, John is eating and drinking healthy! He has switched from Budweiser to Bud Light and lowfat pretzels.”

Just a thought of what a checkout clerk might think in a given situation.

Do you really think a WalMart checkout clerk gives a flip on what food we eat? Seriously, these poor checkout people have to stand on their feet for eight plus hours and the only thing they care about is clockout time and payday. They have told me this.

Judi, good question.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@john65pennington Of course I can’t speak for all clerks, only myself. I have never worked in a grocery store, but I was a cashier for many years, and I personally found it very interesting to observe people and their purchases.

john65pennington's avatar

ANef, can you imagine what might follow, if a checkout clerk told a customer, “hey, Susie, glad you decided to switch to yogurt, instead that regular ice cream. you have been packing on the pounds, lately”.

“Cleanup on checkout 3”.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I never worked in a grocery store, but I did used to work in a drugstore at the front counter. People had tyo come to me to buy their cigarettes and I did notice several distinct trends in terms of who bought what kind of cigarettes. If a customer shattered this pattern, I usually wondered why s/he was buying those cigarettes instead of the cigarettes that others of his/her age, sex, and economic status usually bought.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I worked in a smokeshop for many years, and I noticed patterns in cigarette brands and the people who bought them, also. After a while I found that I was usually able to peg what brand a person would request before they got to the counter, and I was usually right.

bunnygrl's avatar

<waves> this little walmart type person cares :-) We chat about regulars, ie: our elderly customers, ”...has anyone seen Mrs… this week? did she seem ok after that cold she had?...” etc Speaking for myself I love chatting away to customers all day long, and I always make a point of saying to (regular) customers “hey, well done, can you come back and take that pack of donuts out of my trolley later, I need help! lol.”

@Judi yes, we notice. Not every single shop of course, but you can’t help it sometimes. As in the case of large family-sized shops which so often will have a large proportion of processed things such as microwave dinners (it is, unfortunately, not unusual to see upwards of 30 of these in a single shop). Yes, I understand that lots of women are working, as well as running a household, but I always have, even if it runs through my head unbidden, a thought of “what a shame” or “poor kids.” I work p/t, and the rest of my week is taken up with running our house, so its easy for me to say that (when i’m able since I have pretty severe mobility issues) I batch cook and then freeze portions of whatever ie:lasange, pasta sauce, even pots of light fluffy mash can be cooked, tubbed and frozen. It isn’t difficult, just takes a bit of time and organisation is all, and yes not all women will have the time, but not all of my customers work (yes I do know this) and still will buy a weeks worth of tv dinners. Again I can’t help but think “poor kids.” Coming home to a “tv dinner” when it is healtheir, and can be so much cheaper too, to cook something fresh. So, yes, we notice. If we were to do nothing but sit/stand at a checkout listening to “beep.. beep… beep..” all day long I truly think I’d go mad… well madder than I am already that is.
huggles xx

optimisticpessimist's avatar

Does it count if I notice what other people have in their cart although I am just shopping? This usually only happens if it is a large amount of something like 6 cases of soda or half a cart of meat.

bunnygrl's avatar

@optimisticpessimist I’ve had customers say to other customers in my queue “hey where’s the party… are we all invited?” when a fellow customer has a cart full of alchohol for example. Or one lady will say to another ”...what’s that sauce like? I’ve seen the ad on tv but haven’t tried it yet?” etc. Very often, I’ll be chatting to the customer I’m serving.. about whatever is in the news/something thats happened locally/school holidays coming up etc etc and the customer behind will join in, and then the next and before you know it you have a conversation involving all 4 or 5 or whatever queue members. Result = happy customers. I like to think I run a happy checkout, and even have regular customers (who make a point of coming to my line) to prove it lol :-)

SavoirFaire's avatar

I have several friends who work or have worked in grocery stores. They watch, they analyze, and sometimes they judge. They tell tales when out with their friends, too!

Nullo's avatar

I was a bag boy at a top-middle grocery store a couple years ago. I would sometimes ponder the customer and his purchases. I would question the judgment of the person shopping there with food stamps (I had not considered the possibility that food-stampers would be charged a different rate – the difference to be made up by the government – and merely saw people spending money on expensive things when they could stretch them further elsewhere).
But one customer in particular sticks in my memory. She was in the latter portion of her middle years. And about once a week, she would come through the lane with two liters of vodka and a number of bottles of orange juice. It is my wont to converse with the customer – be friendly and all that – and so I said, “Hey, I remember you! [because] You bought the same thing last week!”

I never saw her again.

Shippy's avatar

I do it constantly, and yes we are what we eat.

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