Bulk shopping hours


While I don’t shop at warehouse clubs like Costco, I tend to buy a lot of items on a given shopping trip to Trader Joe’s. In fact, I saw an article recently that estimated Trader Joe’s average basket size at around $48. It follows that for every person like me, who buys $80-100 during each visit, there are some people spending much less on each trip. And since Trader Joe’s doesn’t have the usual “express” lanes, everyone ends up in the same set of queues.

This makes me wonder: should certain retailers offer special shopping hours for bulk purchasing? For instance, the store could open an hour earlier two days a week, and invite people who spend more than say $75 per trip to shop during that period. And the great thing is, they wouldn’t have to do any work to enforce that restriction: people buying only a few things would have little incentive to wait in line behind folks with huge numbers of items.

Offering special hours for bulk shopping probably wouldn’t make existing bulk shoppers spend any more money. However, I bet it would encourage some of the people who tend to make frequent, smaller trips to instead buy more each time and consider new products, thus increasing the retailer’s share of wallet. And by shifting more of the bulk shoppers to off-peak times, it would reduce average queue length and make checkout more efficient during regular store hours, which every shopper would certainly appreciate.