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Science of Lines

The Science of Lines Clock watching Once a wait lasts longer than three minutes, the perceived wait time multiplies with each passing minute. Shoppers who actually waited five minutes told surveyors they felt they had waited twice as long. Impulse buying Mall retailers are copying grocery stores with items like tiny stuffed animals and gift cards next to lines to distract from the wait. What's really happening at checkout A shopper can use this formula, by John D.C. Little, to determine expected wait time: Average wait time = average number of people in line divided by their arrivalrate. 2 3:00 Number of Customers Average time entering line per minute customers you can expect to wait already in line Line jockeying Short lines are usually short for a reason. Other shoppers may have concluded that a short line has an extremely slow or chatty cashier. More staff Single line with multiple registers Some stores employ "runners' at the holidays to assist cashiers. Old Navy sends out 'line expeditors and 'super helpers' during peak times. Check It Out Multiple lines and registers A single-file line leading to three cashiers is about Single-file lines typically move faster because three times faster potential line stoppers will only hold up a single register, allowing others to remain open. than having one line for each cashier. At (O) Line least one of the three stopper Bailing out Men are more likely to give up on a line than women. Men start to inflate the amount of time they believe they have waited in line after just two minutes. With women, it's three minutes. lines could have a random event, such as a price check, that would slow the line. Customers Source: WSJ reporting Mike Sudal/The Wall Street Journal

Science of Lines

shared by hfftw on Mar 28
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Much of the work grows from more nuanced understandings of how people perceive waiting in line. Shoppers tend to become impatient quickly and fail to take into account key indicators of what may slow ...


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