Monday, 6 July 2015

Retail Anxiety and Coping with Kids at the Checkout

Do you shop at Aldi?

Have you ever used the self-service checkouts at Coles or Woolworths?

Have you ever done either of the above whilst shopping with children?

Good Lord, is it just me, or is grocery shopping, especially with kids, becoming more stressful?

The Aldi checkout is a well known centre for stress, particularly to the novice Aldi shopper. Even regular Aldi patrons with a trolley full of products can come unstuck at the register, trying in vain to pack their own goods, invariably scrambling to finish bagging their items well after the transaction has been completed.

"Sorry, I won't be a second, I just need to get my frozen chips, chocolate, ski-gear and drop-saw and I'll be out of your way." Crazy.

Add kids to the equation and you spend 30 minutes assuring them that Little Bears are EXACTLY the same as Tiny Teddies and promising them that they will indeed like Wheat Brix.

Aldi is cheap and they have fabulous random items each week that seem to be perfectly timed. Have you ever found yourself looking through an Aldi catalogue and spotting the very item you declared two weeks ago that you needed but didn't know existed or thought it was way out of your price range?

I need a dome-shaped, pink fridge with hairdryer attachment and bonus socks for less than $30. Oh, there it is, page 3 of the catalogue, on sale this Saturday. I'd better get there 15 minutes before the shop opens wearing riot gear because those other Aldi shoppers are BRUTAL. It's carnage.

Sound familiar?

The self-serve checkouts at Coles and Woolies are just their way of making us do the work for them. Once upon a time people used to scan our groceries and pump our petrol. Now we do it ourselves. They bloody-well tricked us into working for them! We tell ourselves it's quicker, more efficient and cheaper. Is it? I don't think so.

Do you avoid buying fresh fruit and veg if you plan to use the self-service checkout? No barcode, no purchase?

I've been that shopper. Not any more. I've gradually come to know the self-service system and am now competent at looking up items with no barcode. Please don't applaud, I'm not yet worthy. I'll let you know when I'm beyond competent, when I've reached the sparkly golden status of expert.

Skilled as I may be at it now, it's a particularly courageous mood that will persuade me to self-serve when shopping with the children.

There are basically two options here. Let the kids participate or don't.

If you choose the latter, you need to be prepared to put up with all kinds of shittiness as denying a child the right to scan a barcode is a punishable offence.

You must also be prepared for the system to glitch more than once as the kids will undoubtedly lean on the scale or remove a product / bag when the computer says no. You may need to call for assistance several times per transaction (irony?). That sucks.

Or, you can be patient-happy-herbal parent and let them help. "Help".

It will take longer. They will argue over who scans each item. They will lean on the scale and move the bag and take 45 minutes to find a barcode. You will, at least once, lose your shit.

The trick is to enable each child to scan the same number of items and touch the screen the same number of times. If you have 5 or fewer items in your basket, you should be sweet. Less than 15, it will be as outlined above. If you have a trolley and children, join the other queue and let the professionals handle it. Trust me.

How do you feel about self-service? Do you start to sweat when you reach the checkout at Aldi?

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