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Do You Bag Your Own Groceries?

Photo: Noel Hendrickson

Checking out of the local supermarket yesterday, my wife was thanked for bagging her own groceries.  She stopped, then realized that in the U.S. supermarkets have baggers, while the local supermarkets that we shopped at in Germany did not.  Over there, we paid for the groceries and then raced to bag them ourselves beyond the cashier’s table while the next customer’s purchases were scanned. Why the difference?  One possibility is cost-based — the low-wage labor of baggers is relatively cheaper here.  Another is demand-based — the average customer is in more of a rush here, perhaps because his/her value of time is higher.  Any other reasons?