Freezing in the Summer – At the Supermarket

supermarketI have a question. It’s one I guess I should really ask those in charge of supermarkets, specifically those who make the ambient temperature decisions. Why is it so darn much colder inside some grocery stores in the middle of summer?

I don’t accept the argument that it has to be that cold inside to preserve all the food. Obviously the cooler and freezer sections have to be at a certain temperature, but more often than not these days the freezers aren’t open air anyway, but behind glass doors. That chill I feel walking down the fresh fruit and veggie aisle is not from the frozen food freezers.

supermarket vegWhile a little air conditioning can be a welcome relief in blistering outdoor heat, it seems like very little, if any thought goes into considering temperature differentials. Often it’s the change in temperature that brings relief. Even slight cooling can be refreshing. It doesn’t have to literally freeze you. If it’s a hot summer day, it’s likely the customers won’t be wearing parkas to shop. But I can think of too many stores where I have to bring a jacket not for going outside, but inside.

It makes me try to avoid these places when I can. And when that’s not possible, hurrying through grabbing just what’s on the list and getting out of there. I thought the idea for stuff sellers was to encourage people to stick around and maybe make a few impulse buys, not drive them out rubbing their hands together in cold, not price shock.

We often hear how lowering our thermostats just a degree or two can save a bunch on winter heating costs. The same, but in reverse, holds for summer if one has air conditioning. Imagine what these stores are flushing down the toilet, or out the hydro wires, both in dollars and precious energy. We sure couldn’t afford to run our households that way.

supermarket_froz_food_islesCosts in other ways too. I wonder how much prices could be lowered if they didn’t spend so much on energy.  And what about customers they may drive away, or at least annoy? I’ve seen too many fellow shoppers shivering, advertising their goose bumps to the world. And people like me, who bring, or wish they had brought, additional clothing just to buy groceries in the summer.

Trying to play devil’s advocate for a minute, maybe it’s to keep the food fresh. Ah but wait, that box of crackers or can of soup does just fine in the more moderate temperature of home. Well, then maybe they do it because since the store’s merchandise has yet to be sold, it hasn’t started the at home storage portion of its shelf life. Maybe they need to take that longer time frame into account, and do everything they can to really keep it cold. But that doesn’t fit either. Because not all grocery stores do it. Their food’s just as fresh, lasts just as long. And surely these groceries with the more comfortable ambient temperature, the ones with more modest air conditioning, surely these stores aren’t out to poison their customers with spoiled food.

Thermometer-freezingI thought of another devil’s advocate thing I can rule out. I don’t ‘buy’ that it’s just oversensitivity to cold either, because I’m just fine at the grocery in winter. I see no one adding extra layers then. The inside temperature is much more appropriate. I think I’ll take a thermometer to the grocery next winter just to see what the actual temperatures are compared to summer. I’m curious to see if there’s any difference despite the differences in customer attire. It wouldn’t even surprise me if it’s actually colder in the summer.

It’s a bit of a giveaway too when you see the cashiers and stock people wearing sweaters and fleece hoodies in the middle of summer. I feel bad for the people who work there. Maybe they get used to it, although I don’t see how – cold is cold. Maybe if we were reptiles or some other cold-blooded creatures (certain decision makers notwithstanding) I could see us adapting to the chill. But this human can’t wait to get back outside where I can wear shorts and a T-shirt, and not freeze in July.

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