The Checkout Gauntlet of Temptation

Everyone knows by now that grocery stores are laid out to tempt you. Even if you come in for a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter, all these things are usually in the back of the store, meaning the least you can do is choose which isle of temptation you’re going to walk down and back again with the one or two things you promised yourself that you’d only buy. Waiting at the register, there are plenty of cheap impulse buys within easy reach (ask any two-year old), but that’s nothing like the higher-priced items on an actual store-long isle.

Now, however, some electronics retailers (Best Buy, Frys Electronics) have come up with something far more insidious. Instead of several lines of registers to choose from (assuming they’re open, Walmart), everyone is herded into one line where they wait for or are directed to the next register. But to get to the end of that line, you must brave “the checkout gauntlet of temptation,” a narrow row of shelves brimming with accessories, gadgets, batteries, magazines, movies, toys, and other items far more costly than a mere bag of chips or pack of gum (and those are there, too, of course.) You can’t move to another line; all who enter and wish to purchase must pass the same way.

What’s next? Minimum purchases? And don’t think you can escape online. Just ask anyone who’s tried to complete a Vista Print purchase.

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