Why Do Grocery Stores Rarely Have Windows?

Regardless of the supermarket chain, the shopping experience can feel somewhat similar. Wide aisles, shopping carts, air conditioning, and bright lights are just a few of the common features. Even right down to the design of where the meat, dairy, and produce sections are located, there's not much difference between grocery stores, according to National Geographic. Basically, they're all designed to get shoppers to stay as long as possible, and therefore to spend as much money as possible.

It's a concept referred to as supermarket psychology. From the veggie misters in the produce section, to the ambient temperature, to the music piped out over the speakers, to the candy and magazines at the checkouts, nothing in a grocery store is by chance — it's all by design (via National Geographic). Have you ever noticed how supermarkets, especially the giant ones, have very few windows? That serves a specific purpose, too.

Fostering a time-free zone

When grocery stores and supermarkets are designed, they utilize various tricks of the trade to try to keep customers in the store for as long as possible. It makes sense: The more time shoppers spend inside, the more money they're likely to spend. For example, according to Stuff, the refrigerated dairy case contains items that almost every shopper intends to buy. For that reason, the section is placed as far back and away from the supermarket entrance as possible, in the hopes that as the customer makes her way there, she'll pick up other items along the way.

An important part of keeping customers inside a store is to strip it of external time cues. According to National Geographic, it's rare or impossible to find a clock inside a supermarket. That's because the more easily a customer loses track of time, the longer he's prone to stay inside. It's for that reason that supermarkets rarely have windows or skylights. If they did, shoppers might notice things like nightfall or an approaching thunderstorm that would spur them to hurry up and get home (via Insider).

Still, the no-windows shopping experience isn't a universal rule. In Germany, for example, some supermarket chains, including Aldi, have experimented with letting in more sunlight. Someday, perhaps, shoppers around the world might actually find out what it's like to shop by natural light, and not fluorescent ones.