General Question

charliecompany34's avatar

Which grocery checkout line moves the fastest?

Asked by charliecompany34 (7793points) July 17th, 2008

no matter how scientific i get about this, it always turns out to be the slowest line for check-out. too many groceries for 15 items or less. hey, looks like this line is moving ok, but why am i still in line?

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23 Answers

robhaya's avatar

If you go with your spouse you can hedge your bets by each standing in a separate checkout line. And whichever line is moving faster, switch to that one. That being said, I think its all relative. There really isn’t a science to it, I think its just dumb luck.
Good Luck!

Seesul's avatar

You have to factor in a number of things, many of which can be unpredictable. The efficiency of the checker, the number of items being checked, who is ahead of you and their speed, problems that may come up, if someone writes a check or has credit denied. If I’m ahead of you (I’m fast, but I jinx the line). In other words, there are too many variables to be scientific about it.

robhaya's avatar

I agree with Seesul Too many variables can screw up the flow.

Seesul's avatar

If it’s a store that you go to regularly and has a stabile employee base, you can observe which ones are more proficient and hedge your bet that way. But like rob said, mostly dumb luck.

kevbo's avatar

I just get in the line with the hot girl so I have something to occupy my time.

jcs007's avatar

min(# of people) + min(# of items) + min(age of person checking out) + max(speed of cashier) = amount of time you’ll be standing in line.

Man, doesn’t everyone use this equation? I plug values into it all the time. Unfortuately, it doesn’t work for the self-checkout lines. Those are determined by this relationship, whose value is still unknown to man:

max(technological ability of person checking out) = least amount of time in line

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Beware of the woman with the checkbook and the man that acts as if he’s never been to the grocery store in his life. Give me the woman with a full cart and two kids over the other two!

robhaya's avatar

There’s a reason why they place the Enquirer and Star Magazine at the checkout line, so if your not attracted to the person in front of you or the cashier, you can amuse yourself by reading those publications. Also avoid the cashier who doesn’t look like their over 21 if you are going to be buying alcohol, because that can slow things down too.

Seesul's avatar

suzanne: I had the combo of the two ahead of me once. I couldn’t believe a man could write a check so slowly, and of course the check was blank until he received his total, in fact he didn’t even pull out the cb until the checker told him the total. That was what came to mind when I read this question.

and rob: didn’t think of that one, and again, the reverse, the kid trying to buy alcohol and argues with the checker that his/her fake ID is real.

and jcs: you left one thing out of your equation: the idiot factor.

timothykinney's avatar

@robhaya, no offense but people that do that are annoying.

To answer the question, just pick a line and stay in it. Everybody has to wait and taking up a spot in two different lines when you only have one transaction isn’t fair to everybody else who is waiting. We’re talking about a couple of minutes. We can learn a lot by being patient, even in the grocery store.

ccatron's avatar

the U-Scan lines are never too bad when we go to the store…unless there is someone in line who doesn’t know how to use it.

wildflower's avatar

Choose the line where you see the most single men and fewest children. They always move fastest.

robhaya's avatar

@Tim I was merely responding to Kevbo’s comment, and not suggesting people do that.

@ccarton The only caveat to self-checkout lines is they frequently involve some type of store intervention because the software malfunctions. I don’t know how many times this happened to me and others.

PupnTaco's avatar

@robhaya, we do that technique all the time of putting people in separate lines, but only if we have a few items held in hand. I wouldn’t cut in line with a cart!

charliecompany34's avatar

@jcs007: love the formulaic approach. i dig that bro.

marinelife's avatar

Whatever line my husband, who calls his ability to go to the grocery store for one item and not come out for more than 30 minutes, “the curse,” is not in.

I do not even let him stay in the store while I get in line. (It appears to happen even when he is just present.)

Even though he is the most mild-mannered of men, he once snapped after standing in line more than 20 minutes while the checker chatted with the person two customers in front of him, and made the checker cry. I told him that probably doubled his bad line karma.

@jcs007 Yes, lurve for the uberbatman formula!

jrpowell's avatar

I just go into the one that looks like it will take the longest. It is like driving during rush hour. The other lane looks like it is going faster so you switch. And then the lane you just switched from starts moving fast while the lane you are in slows to a crawl.

And I am a patient person. I don’t mind standing around. I don’t really have a reason to be in a hurry.

flameboi's avatar

There is a Simpsons episode were Apu explains to Marge that the fastest line is the one of the single guys, the single serving life is easy to recognize… (I can’t remember the name of the episode, or the season, but is the one Apu moves to live with them and then Homer goes with him to India) :)

Seesul's avatar

“Season 5: “Homer and Apu”

Original airdate in N.A.: 10-Feb-94

Apu and Marge wait at the back of the long line in the express lane.

Apu: Mrs. Simpson, the express line is the fastest line not always.
That old man up front, he is starved for attention. He will talk
the cashier’s head off.
Abe: {Ah, there’s an interesting story behind this nickel. In 1957, I
remember it was, I got up in the morning and made myself a piece of
toast. I set the toaster to three—medium brown.}
—Then he tied an onion to his belt, “Homer and Apu”

Apu: Let’s go to…that line.
Marge: But that’s the longest.
Apu: Yes, but look: all pathetic single men. Only cash, no chitchat.
—Axioms of shopping lines, “Homer and Apu”

Marge smiles approvingly as the line moves much faster.”

great call, flameboi

flameboi's avatar

@ Seesul
Thank you for the data, I have a good memory (can’t believe it’s almost 15 years of that episode!) but I’m not good with the technical info :) I will give lurve to you :) mmm… omg I’m getting old!

iJimmy's avatar

I’ve heard that many stores put less experienced checkers in the express lanes.

ezraglenn's avatar

steer clear of old ladies with coupons.

shilolo's avatar

I always pick the line that actually has a bagger, especially if I have a full cart. Having the cashier try to ring up the items and bag while I watch my 2 year old destroy the checkout lane is no picnic. So, a bagger increases the speed of the line (and my exit) significantly.

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