Opinion

Changed layout in grocery store leads to some confusion

Without warning, they totally reorganized my grocery store. This was not just a temporary display of a new item or the installation of a new rack at the end of an aisle, the store was gutted and turned upside down.

There was no public hearing or referendum, which is unusual for my community, they just went ahead without even an explanation of their OGP (Official Grocery Plan).

I realize that it would be arrogant to think that they did this just to annoy me alone. But I have long had this feeling that they constantly shift the products I buy as soon as I leave. I picture one girl on lookout, watching me get into my truck then, as soon as I pull out of the parking lot, she shouts, “OK, he’s gone, move his cereal and toilet paper to another shelf.”

I only had to pick up a few items but as I wandered through the foreign, rearranged store, I felt like I was on vacation in Penticton, my eyes darting from shelf to shelf. I tried to look cool as if I was just casually shopping and I smiled politely to the lady with the baby as we strolled past each other for the third time. It was obvious she was confused as well, but neither of us was going to ask for help.

I was ready to strike a deal with her. “Ma’am, I’ll tell you where the Pampers and baby food are if you know where I can find my coffee and peanut butter.” I was close to forming alliances in this indoor episode of Survivor. I’m sure managers were up in the office watching on closed circuit TV and chortling as we negotiated this new maze.

Major scientific studies go into the layout of a grocery store. Paco Underhill considers himself a retail anthropologist, and has spent thousands of hours analyzing  shopping behaviour: what they touch; how long they spend reading packages; how they move in stores (hint: narrow aisles mean “butt brush,” a major turnoff for women who are potential buyers); their responses to signage; how they negotiate the heights at which products of interest are placed. He now advises numerous companies on how these and other factors can affect the bottom line.

There is even a correlation between road design and grocery store aisles. If grocery store aisles are too wide, there is  less space to sell items. Plus, the stores don’t want people rushing through without having to at least glance at the products on the shelves. Most grocery stores have aisles wide enough for two carts to pass, but people do have to pay attention and navigate more carefully than they would in a wider lane.

I would support the installation of horns on shopping carts to move people along and also legislation to forbid cell phone use while trying to push a fully-laden cart with one hand.

We’ve  all been educated that we should only shop along the walls where the vegetables, and other healthy items, are stocked. The interior shelves are where the processed foods  and other non-essential products are displayed. So if we eat healthy, we should have no problem finding stuff because they can’t move the freezers and coolers as easy as they can the Oreos and Hungry Man dinners.

I just want them to put one table at the front door with my coffee and peanut butter on it. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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