There’s something strange going on in British supermarkets.
In Melbourne grocery stores (and as far as I know, those of the rest of Australia), you reach the checkout, pay for your shopping, then walk to the exit via a kind of corral or corridor.
It’s not that way in the UK. When you check out your items, to get to the exit you often have to walk back through the shop. I’ve gotten lost before, wandering through the aisles in search of the exit.
It would be very easy to pick up something and slip it into your shopping bags on the way out. I’m guessing others have worked this out too; the rate of ‘inventory loss’ must be very high. (This might even explain why shopping is so expensive here — the Brits are paying the consequences of poor retail floor layout.)
Last Friday, I went to Chinatown to replenish my Chinese sauces. Then I went to Tesco for a snack. At the Tesco checkout, the lady scanned my bagel.
‘Do you need to see my other bag?’ I asked helpfully.
‘Sorry?’ she said, confused.
‘Do you need to look in my other shopping bag? In case I stole something?’ I reminded her.
‘No…’ She looked at me curiously. ‘Where are you from? America?’
‘Australia,’ I said.
‘Oh. Yeah… I heard they do that there sometimes. You know, check bags.’
Hmm. Maybe the British are just too polite to steal.