DC Grocery Stores Are the Longest Wait


Ouch. I’ve been in some interminable lines at the Harris Teeters and Safeways of the DC area, but I had no idea they were the worst in the nation. The average line is over 8 minutes long in area grocery stores, or approximately the amount of time necessary to give yourself a lobotomy with a disposable razor from Aisle 4. Are the lines that awful? Who’s the worst offender? I’d have to say the Giant in my neck of the woods is awful, and the Harris Teeter that came to Shirlington a year or so ago is the best.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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14 thoughts on “DC Grocery Stores Are the Longest Wait

  1. The Safeway on Capitol Hill is pretty awful. Especially when they close the self checkout and only have 2 lanes open total. I’ve waited in line there for a good 15-20 minutes on several occasions.

  2. The Shopper’s Food Warehouse on Rt 1 in Alexandria has to be the longest in the area. I’ve waited over a half an hour on more than one occasion. This happens when all the lanes are open. I no longer shop there.

  3. The Safeway that lies between Georgia Ave and Piney Branch is my nominee. I avoid the store like the plague because the lines are so bad, instead going the extra few miles to Silver Spring. I once waited 22 minutes in the express lane with one item. And to boot, there is no self-checkout in this store (as there is at both the Shoppers and Safeway listed above).

  4. The article mentions that people over-estimate their waiting time.

    Also, according to the experts, it’s not so much time, as fairness that is a key issue. They recommend grocery stores use a single line system like banks and airports. But with the registers strung out across a distance, and the aisles near them, it seems it would be hard to come up with a starting point for the line.

  5. The Safeway, on Wisconsin Ave is the absolute worst – I have to wait until March 2010, to even look at food! :)

  6. being from the west coast and spending 10 weeks in DC last year I was sadly struck by the checkout experience in D.C. grocery stores. My son who has lived in the city for 4 years had always told me about the problem, little did I know how right he was.

    What I can not understand is how any ownership group would allow the customer service to fall to such a terrible level of service–unless everyone else is allowing that to happen the loss of business would be severe. I was so shocked when the new safeway opened up in north capitol (i think where NY comes in) and I thought I had awakened from a bad dream and was back on the west coast.

    I remember being at the Giant off RI and being line 10 minutes to closing with 15 other shoppers and there being one line opened and 4-5 clerks loitering around waiting to go home.

    As I return this fall I hope the new safeway management has maintained the same level of service!


  7. We’ve got you all beat down here in SW. The lines are always halfway down the isles, which really makes shopping in the isles all that much more of a pain in the rear. Oh and while we’re at it even if you can make it down the isles they more often than not are out of whatever you need!

  8. they use the single line system at trader joe’s in west end, but when that single line snakes all the way to the back of the store and then across the back… well… there’s only so much the system can do to mitigate more volume than the cashiers can handle… I see that line and I turn around and leave… the adams morgan harris teeter is almost always good with the short lines though…

  9. The lines at Giant (doesn’t matter which one) are always bad–I could go to pick up a gallon of milk and wait 20 minutes at either the self-checkout or the express line. Having lived here now for 9 years, I have almost forgotten what it’s like to move through the line in a timely manner. Sigh…

  10. I blame, in part, the take over of little digital screens at every check out. Casheers at my Safeway (the socialist one in Adams Morgan) who still scan the food, have little else to do. While being pushed by the old lady behind me, I try to enter my phone number, decline to support their charity, choose Debit or Credit, decline to get any cash back, sign or put in my pin, approve the total amount, and then start to bag my own food because I bring my own bags, and Safeway won’t touch them. If only there was someone being paid to assist me in all this! Don’t even get me started on self-checkouts!

  11. The scarcity of self-checkouts definitely stood out to me when I moved to the area 4 years ago. In the midwest, self-checkouts really took off; it’s nearly impossible to find a grocery store out there that doesn’t have them. DC area? I’d say you have a 50/50 chance.

    It’s usually the older grocery stores that don’t have them, but even the older stores in the midwest retrofitted years ago.