I was at the supermarket today, arms full with bottles of shampoo and conditioner, making my way to the checkouts when I saw an elderly lady in the crisps aisle. She was reaching up for a multipack on the top shelf. She’d put her basket down and was pushing the bottom of the packet up in the hopes that it would topple forward and land within her reach. This trick learnt by many a child is apparently one that comes in use later in life too. Her efforts were to no avail and the crisp packet remained firmly on the top shelf.
I precariously moved the bottles I was holding so I could free my other arm, and on tip toes I reached up and took down the packet she had been reaching for and handed it to her. I smiled at her and she smiled back as she put the crisps in her basket. Without need of a “Thank you” because I could already see the gratitude in her smile I turned and went to the checkout; my good deed done for the day.
As I waited in the line I saw the same elderly lady carrying on with her shopping and I hoped that should she need anything further that someone else was able to reach the top shelf for her. But what happens to the people who don’t have someone to help them? Whether it is a member of staff or a person willing to take a few seconds out of their day and notice that someone needs help, what if that person isn’t around?
I suppose I notice these things more now. I worry about what will happen to my parents as they get older. I am there to help them, but I am not there all of the time. My parents, like so many people, are proud. They do not want to have to ask for help. We all crave our independence, and to admit that we are not able to do the things we were once able to do so easily hurts. In a society where people are living longer, we have to do better.
I understand the need to block food items to make them more appealing, we used to do it with movies. Create the biggest visual impact in the hope that it entices customers to buy your product. But instead of side to side blocking why can’t it be vertical? Have several items on a shelf so that the same item forms a column rather than a row. That way, no matter what your height is you are able to reach the products. Surely that would help with stock rotation too? Everyone would take the items that are easy to reach over the ones that are higher up, so you can encourage people to take the items that are nearing their use by date.
Staffing issues mean that it is not always possible for someone to help customers that need assistance; pride often means that people won’t ask for help anyway. A simple step like remerchandising their stock is something supermarkets can easily do in order to help their customers. Hopefully we all get the chance to grow older. It is little steps like this, which will make a difference.