BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK reports that sales are down because customers waiting for their purchases to be rung up are preoccupied with their smartphones. That syndrome is called "mobile blinders." They could be talking, texting, or checking their email. Half of Americans have smartphones.
In New Haven, Connecticut Wal-Mart, from the minute customers leave their cars in the parking lots to when they head back to their car after shopping they are on their smartphones. The neighborhood is blue-collar.
Other factors making impulse buying at the check-out an anachronism include angst about whatever, with the economy top on the list, and the new frugality. If buying O Magazine wasn't planned, it stays on the rack. Also, we can read it for free at Barnes & Noble or the public library. At the latter, the quiet reading room is jumping.
The exceptions are toddlers who grab at candy and bags of chips. Also, aging Baby Boomers like myself, reared on print, make it our business to browse through THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER on Thursdays. But we don't buy it. So, companies are out of luck even there, thanks to the habit of frugality.
The way sellers can reach us at check-out is through our smartphones. End of story.