How To Pick The Fastest Line At The Grocery Store

October 5, 2016 by Justine Schwartz
shefinds | Style

If it feels like you spend a lot of your life waiting in lines–it’s because you do. MIT professor Richard Larson estimates that Americans spend 37 billion hours per year waiting in lines, which is a lot of time spent doing *basically* nothing (scrolling through your Facebook feed doesn’t count). If you want to get some of that time back, here are some proven tricks that Larson discovered in his research for getting in the fastest line. You don’t have to be clairvoyant–it’s just a matter of follows these simple cues:

READ MORE: Is It Really Better To Buy In Bulk? The Answer.

Follow the people with bigger carts. Seems counter-intuitive, right? According to Larson’s research, there is a standard amount of time–about 41 seconds–that it takes for each person to say hello, pay, gather their items and go. So waiting behind more people with fewer items actually takes longer than waiting for fewer people with many items. People with large cart loads only have to swipe their cards once (versus multiple swipes in the express line), so following them is a good strategy. The express line is a sham!

READ MORE: 2 Things You Should Never Buy At Whole Foods, According To A Former Employee

Go left. According to another expert in the area, Robert Samuel,  since 90% population is right-handed, most people tend to go for the right lanes when checking out. Buck the trend, go left and you might have a shorter wait time.

Look for female cashiers. Samuel also found that women, on average, are faster cashiers. The checkout process with women attendees tends to go quicker, so look for lines with women at the register.

READ MORE: The Worst Thing To Buy At Costco, According To An Employee

So, there you have it! The sneaky ways you can actually tell which line is going to be fastest at the grocery store–or any store, really. Here are more tips, plus don’t forget to post more life hack questions for us on Quora!

READ MORE: If You’re A Whole Foods Shopper, You’ll Want To Read This



Editorial Director

Justine Schwartz is a veteran women's lifestyle editor; she's written extensively about style & beauty tips, health advice and wedding planning for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Huffington Post and New York Weddings. Justine has been with SheFinds since 2010; you can reach her via email at [email protected]

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