The Geography Of The Grocery Store

Gregory McNamee surveys it:

[T]he things we need the most—bread, milk, eggs, fresh vegetables, cheese, and meat—are located by design as far as they can be from the front door, forcing the shopper to navigate the entire store just as surely as if Saunders had laid out the path himself. The dairy section in particular is almost always at the farthest possible point away from the entrance. …

Why is it that the bakery is so often located by the snacks and the booze? And why is the bakery so often so far from the door? The scent of a fresh-baked cinnamon roll drifting across a big store is as good a draw as any to get customers into the coveted interior, and it can pull them all the way across the store. And as for the first question, there seems to be something inside our reptilian brains that connects sweets and snacks to alcohol. Just what that something is isn’t quite clear yet, but as far as grocery store placement is concerned, it works. Store designers therefore often link these items, adding prescription and over-the-counter medications to the mix in in states where groceries and pharmacies are allowed to share a roof. Baked goods, snacks, alcohol, and medicines are, of course, splendid profit centers, one more reason why mastermind grocers like to see them in one spot.