Can We Get Some Useful Sh*t In The Checkout Lane, Please?

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Shutterstock

Shoppers want healthier options at the checkout lanes

Going to the grocery store with kids is tiring at best, and an absolute disaster at worst. With all the whining and meltdowns bound to occur, it’s a miracle when you make it to the checkout lane without losing your shit. And that’s when you’re faced with a barrage of candy and junk food for your kids to make one final push at unraveling your last shred of sanity.

And that’s just one reason why junk food checkout aisles are the worst and need to go away, ASAP. And can we get some stuff we actually need there?

According to research from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 90% of food displayed at grocery checkouts is unhealthy. Additionally, Today reports that when grocery chains have “family friendly” checkout lanes, parents appreciate them very much. Raley’s, a chain with several stores in California and Nevada, has this type of checkout lane, and they say it’s working. “We’re learning quickly that our customers want more of this,” said company spokeswoman Chelsea Minor. “We recognize the challenges for moms and dads who are going through those check stands and their children are quickly distracted by treats.”

More and more consumers are making it known that healthy checkouts are where it’s at. There’s a petition circulating the internet as we speak asking Meijer’s grocery chain to start including healthier foods citing a number of reasons. It reads, “We’ve all stood in the checkout aisle – tired, hungry and faced with a wall of candy, soda and chips. Retailers know we spend a lot of time at checkout and they are counting on us to buy impulsively. With high national rates of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases due to poor nutrition, why are unhealthy foods being so strongly promoted at checkout?”

The petition also points out the easy visibility of tabloids and magazines with harmful messages at most checkout lanes and their proximity to kids. It requests changes to both the food and beverages offerings, as well as reading materials. “I am asking Meijer to merchandise checkout with healthier products such as organic fruits, vegetables, snacks (including whole-grain, gluten-free and nut-free), and healthy beverages, as well as reading material for children.”

While this is all well and good for those of us with kids, there’s also the matter of general convenience for everyone, not just parents or people seeking to eat healthier. How many times have you reached the checkout lane only to remember you’ve forgotten something small, but important? Batteries, lip balm, a bottle of Advil, nail clippers, hand sanitizer — there are a number of handy, non-junk items it would be fantastic to have access to at the end of your trip — when lots of us (especially parents) are at the end of our rope.

As the petition notes, Meijer stores already include some non-food items, but asks that they expand their selection. And as someone fortunate enough to live near a grocery chain that already does all of what the petition is requesting, I can safely say it’s a wonderful idea that works and makes me and many others into loyal customers.

When I take my kids shopping, I don’t stress at the end because my stores include several checkout lanes without junk food. Most have kids’ books, healthy snack items, bottles of hand soap, a selection of gift cards, and beverage coolers with nary a soda in sight. Can I tell my kids “no” when they request junk food? Of course, and I do. Frequently. But after a long and sweaty trip through the store with two restless kids, it’s awfully nice to have one less battle to wage at the end when they see the candy and gum.

And this is why they’ll have my business as long as they’re open and I’m breathing oxygen (shout out to Wegmans!) so more stores should take note. Hopefully, this petition gains speed and Meijer listens. No one really needs a Snickers, but we could all use a few other conveniences they could stock just as easily.

Like wine.

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