General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Why do WalMart/Target/KMart have all those checkout lanes?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19026points) September 14th, 2010

I have never, ever, ever seen all of them used. I have been at WalMarts on Black Fridays and Christmas Eve and I have never once seen all the checkout lanes being used. Why do they build them if they refuse to use them no matter how busy it is?

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18 Answers

cockswain's avatar

I don’t know, but it drives me nuts. If they don’t feel them up during peak times, what the hell are they for?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

It helps to switch cashiers into an unused lane. That way the checkout process doesn’t have to stop while the exiting cashier reconciles his or her cash drawer.

john65pennington's avatar

Like you said Christmas and very special holidays. i think its more of show and tell than anything else. its like firemen going to a fire. you had rather have too many at the scene, rather than need them and they are not there.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@john65pennington Except that they don’t use them on Christmas.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I’ve seen all the registers open on special occasions (such as grand opening, black Friday, and at Christmas). Perhaps it’s a matter of location.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Probably has a lot to do with the overall design that gets used throughout the country. I’m sure that those designs play out in city’s in California when they are being set in stone. Places with big populations likely need all the registers at times.

weeveeship's avatar

It is all about queueing theory. The stores want to have the option to start a new line if there are a lot of customers.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@weeveeship So then how many customers must there be waiting for them to open a new line? I mean, I don’t have a problem with it when it’s 11 pm on a Tuesday night, it’s when it’s Black Friday and every single line is all the way to the back of the store.

cockswain's avatar

It pisses me off to no end when I go to Vitamin Cottage at lunch, there are only two out of six lanes open, the lines are 5–8 deep, and other employees are doing shit like stocking shelves. Their highest priority is getting as many people through that line, then everything else when it’s slower. The worst is if some idiot balances their checkbook in the middle of it.

weeveeship's avatar

@papayalily In that case then, I think they are probably understaffed and can’t hire enough temps.

Seaofclouds's avatar

The commissary and PX have a policy that if there are more than 3 customers in a line, they will open another register. I think more stores need to have a policy like that.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Seaofclouds What’s PX, and what’s the commissary?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@papayalily PX = Post Exchange (basically like a Walmart on an Army post) and the commissary is the grocery store on post.

toaster's avatar

My very initial guess is that these “plague” stores are build almost universally in nature to avoid costly(!) architectural plans.. This is to provide sufficient services (25 minutes in line) under catastrophic shopper traffic scenarios, such as holidays, etc.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seaofclouds the longest lines I have ever stood on in my life are at the commissary. We try to always go with two people, so one can get on line while the other fills the cart. The commissaries I have frequented most are Walter Reed, MD and Millington, TN

@all I agree that part of it is store design for many cities, and they don’t adjust it well, for each city. And, changing cashiers is easier if at least one register is open.

@cockswain I worked in retail for years, and we dreaded that checkbook coming out. I can’t believe people still use them, or that any store still accepts them. I have less patience as the customer behind the guy paying with a check. Now with all of this emphasis in the media about throwing out your credit cards, I dread the thought that people will be using their checkbooks more again. I hope they at minimum use a debit card.

cockswain's avatar

It’s not so bad they write a check, it’s when they don’t even move until they balance their checkbook. So dumb.

JLeslie's avatar

@cockswain well, at least at the grocery store their checks are usually pre-approved. At regular retail they get bumped all of the time and you have to call for authorization. Maybe the system is better now. Still, people write bad checks allofthe time if you live in a medium to large city, they are a pain.

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