November 06, 2020

“Clean-up on aisle five!” You don’t hear that called out in stores much, but many grocery stores patrol their aisles at regular intervals, hunting for hazards. They know their customers will slip and fall on whatever is spilled or leaked onto the floors. Why does this keep happening? It’s a matter of science! Experts have determined where shoppers are most likely to look when shopping, and stores arrange their products accordingly.

A “planogram” is “a model or diagram that indicates the placement of retail products on shelves to maximize their sales.” The maxim, “Eye level is buy level,” reflects the fact that shoppers are most likely to buy what they see. Vertical shelves are divided by experts into four zones:

Stretch level – above 6 ft. Products this high receive little attention, so most stores only place low value (and lightweight) products this high.

Eye level – 4-5 ft. This is the prime real estate on shelves, where products receive 35% more attention than those on lower shelves. This is the zone where stores place products with the highest profit margin.

Touch level – 3-4 ft. This is the kid zone, where products sell best for children. Look at how often candy and sugar cereals are placed at this height.

Stoop level – below 3 ft. Shoppers do not like bending down, and they seldom even look here. This area is not within the shoppers’ field of vision as they walk through the store.

That last line about the shoppers’ field of vision came directly from an industry publication. Store owners know that shoppers walk around their stores with their eyes roaming the shelves, mostly at the “eye” level, and occasionally at the “touch” level, but seldom below that. Why? Because customers are feasting their eyes on all the delectable choices of goodies on the shelves, deciding what to put in their baskets!

If customers do not look down to the “stoop” level, how do they ever let their eyes wander down to the floor? There’s nothing interesting on the floor! In addition, the basket often blocks the view of the floor, and a customer may roll past, over, or even through a spill or other hazard. The customer’s first knowledge of the spill may be when he or she is lying on the floor after a fall. Ouch!

So, how can you protect yourself from the dangers of shopping?

First, it is always best to visually scan the aisle before you walk down it, and periodically tear your eyes away from the shelves and look at the floor. It takes some effort, but you can do it.

Second, if you spot a hazard on the floor, STOP AND REPORT IT. Take the following steps:
1. Roll your shopping cart over the spill or hazard, so that other people will be physically prevented from stepping in it.
2. Leave the cart there, and go find a store employee to clean up the spill or hazard.
3. Stay with the store employee until the hazard is cleaned up, to help warn others away from being injured.

If you have the misfortune of slipping and falling in a store, take the following steps:
1. Do not move. Wait for help to come. You may make any injuries worse by moving.
2. If you can do so, take your phone and snap several photos of the spill and the area around the spill.
3. Record the names of store employees you encounter, and any fellow shoppers who identify themselves to you.
4. If anyone tells you they saw the spill before you fell, ask them how long it was there. Take down their name and contact information. This is the most important fact you can learn from nearby witnesses.
5. Make sure you report the fall to store management.
6. Seek immediate medical care for any injuries.
7. Call us to discuss your legal rights, if your injuries are serious, or you think they may become serious.

Do not delay taking each of these seven steps. Act immediately to protect yourself!

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