Choose Lucky Lane 13 For Speedy Supermarket Checkouts

Choose Lucky Lane 13 For Speedy Supermarket Checkouts

There are lots of variables that influence how painfully long your wait may be at the supermarket checkout line. Gigabiting offers some guidelines for how to assess a checkout line and choose the best one, such as looking for lane 13.

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker.

The reason lane 13 is almost always faster is, as you probably guessed, superstition. Since others avoid that lane, it may be a lucky one for you.

We’ve previously mentioned one of the other tips for choosing the fastest checkout line: avoid the express lane if there’s a shorter line elsewhere, even if people on that line have more items in their baskets. Each customer adds 48 seconds to the transaction, compared to 2.8 seconds for each item. Gigabiting says the breakeven for when you would choose the line with the extra person is about 17 items.

More checkout line rules are offered in the link below. How do you get out of the supermarket faster?

Checkout Line Hypotheses: How to choose the fastest lane at the supermarket [Gigabiting]


  • I do the household shopping, and the only way I’ve found that really helps, is to get in early, like when they open up! The other thing that helps is if you can’t get in early, avoid shopping on pension Thursday and the following Friday. I’ve found that when the old codgers do their shopping they like to congregate in gaggles and have a bit of a chinwag. Oh, and never look em in the eye, they get real feisty when you challenge em…. #}

  • Hands up whose local supermarket has 13 lanes?

    With express lanes and self-service lanes now becoming the norm, I can’t think of any supermarket I’ve used recently which has 13 conventional (numbered) lanes.

  • This website is isn’t it? Doesn’t that mean it’s by Australian authors, intended for Australian readers?

    I’m getting a strong aroma of USA here. How common is it for supermarkets in Aus to have at least 13 lanes? And how many Australians give a rat’s arse about the number 13?

    • Within a 5km radius of my home there are 11 supermarkets (I don’t know why). I would suggest that at least 8 of them have 15 lanes or more. The ones that don’t are a both IGA stores that are generally much smaller than the others in overall size as well.

      The question of whether there are ever more than three or four registers open at a given time is entirely different however.

      As for the number 13 itself… my wife won’t even let the TV volume be on 13.

  • I get out of the supermarket faster by doing most of my shopping online, and only going in person for specific items. Self-service checkouts FTW!
    (shameless plug) for non-perishables; for fresh stuff (/shameless plug)

  • 2.8 seconds per item is.. optimistic. That would need a scan rate of 21 items per minute, most people who work in supermarkets have a 16-19 item per minute scan rate.

  • Thomas, I realise this is a long shot as the post is from years ago. but where do you get the figure of 16-19 items per minute from please? I ask because my store is telling me that the average is 22 per minute, and i simply don’t believe them. Thanks.

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