14 Highly Clever “Checkout Hacks” for Impatient Shoppers

Updated May 17, 2024 by Kyle James
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If you hate standing in line at ANY store as much as I do, you’re gonna love this article. Is it just me or does time seem to slow down as you watch the cashier methodically scan each item with painstaking precision, while you mentally count the minutes ticking away. But with a few smart strategies and some insider tips, you can streamline your checkout process and get the hell out of the store faster.

14 Highly Clever

1. Choose the Right Time to Shop

Timing is everything when it comes to avoiding long lines.

Generally, the best times to shop are early in the morning or late in the evening, right before the store closes.

Mid-morning on weekdays and late afternoons tend to be busier, as these times align with people running errands before or after work.

Avoid shopping during peak hours if you can.

See Also: Costco Employees Tell Me the VERY Best Day to Shop

2. Scout the Fastest Checkout Lane

Not all checkout lanes are created equal. Here are some tips to help you pick the fastest one:

– Fewer Items: Look for lanes where customers have fewer items in their carts. A line with a few people and small baskets is usually quicker than a line with one person and a cart full of groceries.

– Avoid Cash Transactions: Cash transactions take longer than card payments. Opt for lanes where people are paying with cards or mobile payments.

– Express Lanes: If you have a small number of items, use the express lane, which is specifically designed for quick checkouts.

PRO TIP

Pay close attention to a cashier’s efficiency. Experienced cashiers tend to be WAY faster. I personally have two at my local grocery store that I know are FAST and I always migrate towards either of them when getting in line. Bottomline, if you recognize a cashier who’s particularly speedy, head to their lane ASAP.

 3. Use Self-Checkout Wisely

Self-checkout can be a great time-saver if you know how to use it effectively:

– Small Loads: Self-checkout is ideal for small to medium-sized purchases. If you have a full cart, it might be faster to go through a regular lane.

– Familiarize Yourself: Get to know the self-checkout system at your store. Understanding how it works will make the process smoother and faster.

– Scan Efficiently: Group items together logically. For instance, place all your produce together so you can scan them quickly without having to search through your cart.

– Payment Ready: Have your payment method ready to go. This can shave off valuable seconds from your checkout time.

4. Prepare Your Cart for Efficiency

Organizing your cart can significantly speed up the checkout process:

– Group Similar Items: Place similar items together. For example, keep all your frozen foods, produce, and canned goods in separate sections of your cart.

– Barcodes Up: Position items with the barcode facing up or out. This makes it easier for the cashier to scan them quickly.

– Use Reusable Bags: If you’re using reusable bags, place them at the front of your cart so you can hand them to the cashier right away.

See Also: 24 Brilliant Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

5. Digital Coupons and Loyalty Cards

Many stores now offer digital coupons and loyalty cards, which can be a time-saver at checkout:

– Load Coupons in Advance: Before you head to the store, load digital coupons onto your loyalty card. This way, you won’t have to fumble with paper coupons at checkout.

– Use Mobile Apps: Some stores have mobile apps that allow you to scan your items and check out through the app, bypassing the traditional checkout lanes altogether.

 6. Be Ready with Payment

Having your payment method ready can cut down your time at the checkout:

– Contactless Payments: Use contactless payment methods like Apple Pay, Google Wallet, or contactless credit/debit cards. These are faster than swiping or inserting a card.

– Store Credit Cards: Some stores have their own credit cards that offer expedited checkout lanes or self-checkout options. If you shop at a particular store frequently, consider getting their card.

 7. Avoid Price Checks and Disputes

Price checks and disputes can cause significant delays. To avoid these:

– Know the Prices: Be aware of the prices of the items you’re purchasing. If something seems off, check the price before heading to the checkout.

– Price Match Policy: Familiarize yourself with the store’s price match policy. If you’re getting a price match, have ALL the necessary information ready to show the cashier quickly.

 8. Plan Ahead with Online Shopping

For the ultimate time-saver, consider combining in-store shopping with online shopping strategies:

– Click and Collect: Many stores offer a “click and collect” service where you can order online and pick up in-store. This allows you to bypass the checkout process entirely.

– Curbside Pickup: Some stores even offer curbside pickup, where employees bring your groceries directly to your car.

See Also: All the Major Stores That Offer Free Curbside Grocery Pickup

 9. Use a Shopping List

A well-organized shopping list can make your trip more efficient:

– Categorize Your List: Organize your list by sections of the store. This way, you can grab all the items in one section before moving to the next, minimizing backtracking.

– Digital Lists: Use a digital shopping list app that allows you to tick off items as you go. This can be quicker than juggling a paper list.

10. Observe and Adapt

Finally, observe the checkout process at your local store and adapt your strategies accordingly:

– Peak Times:  Take note of when the store is busiest and plan to avoid these times in the future.

– Store Layout: Familiarize yourself with the store layout so you can navigate it more efficiently.

11. Pay Attention to Lane Traffic

Sometimes, the busiest-looking lanes can clear out faster than those with fewer people.

Pay attention to the overall traffic flow.

If you see a line that looks long but is consistently moving, it might be faster than a shorter line that isn’t moving as smoothly.

12. Opt for Bagging Services

If your store offers bagging services, take advantage of them.

Bagging your groceries can take up a significant amount of time, especially if you’re trying to do it quickly.

Let the professionals handle the bagging so you can focus on paying and getting out the door.

13. Leverage Mobile Scanning Apps

Some stores have mobile scanning apps that allow you to scan items as you shop and then complete the transaction at a designated kiosk or at self-checkout.

This can dramatically reduce your time at the checkout because you’ve already scanned everything yourself.

PRO TIP

The Sam’s Club Scan & Go app is a leader in this movement. You scan and pay for everything within the app, then you head for the exit doors and show proof of your purchase to the receipt checker via the app.

14. Check for Hidden Lanes

Sometimes stores have hidden or less obvious checkout lanes, like those near customer service desks or secondary exits.

These lanes are often less busy because they’re not as visible or well-known. Keep an eye out for these hidden gems to save time.

Ask the Reader: Other than loading up your arms with stuff and running for the exit, what “quick checkout” hacks did I miss?


By Kyle James

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