So, did we all survive the awesome Black Friday weekend? It seems like it was a huge success, give or take some minor glitches, with eager shoppers filling Malls to get all of the plentiful bargains. This year, things kicked off on the Thursday night; I remain in awe of the people out there who can eat more food than anyone should safely consume, and then head out to their local Shopping Centre to queue for hours without blinking an eyelid. We salute you and hope you have recovered sufficiently for today’s endeavours.

A close look at the fast lane, sponsored by MasterCard

People didn't really pay too much attention!

With the year’s busiest Mall days now past, we can safely say that meandering slow-pokes are the enemy of the Mall shopper! Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as guilty when I’m having a relaxed day out at the Shopping Centre; but when I’m in full shopping mode, get out of my way or face the wrath of some serious dirty looks and silent, internal cursing! This is particularly the case if you exit a shop and attempt to enter the flow of Mall traffic without first looking - there is a special place in hades for you! Studies have found that around Christmastime walking speeds drop by 20%.

Well, don’t worry about it, because the Lakeside Centre in Essex (just outside London, England) have enacted a cunning plan. After doing a bit of research, the Mall found that 84% of shoppers declared slow walkers their number one pet peeve. So irksome is it that there is even a term for the phenomenon - ‘slow rage’. So, the Mall has teamed up with MasterCard (who are currently promoting their new ‘Masterpass’ instant payment system) and installed a 200 metre, bright orange strip of lane in one of the busiest walkways in the Centre. The lane was installed just in time for the Black Friday rush.

The stunning Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex, England

Lakeside Centre is one of the largest in the United Kingdom. It first opened in 1988 and has grown into a massive Mall, with around 250 stores and 50 restaurants running over three shopping levels. In 2006 the Mall saw the addition of a lovely boardwalk around the lake from which the Centre takes its name. There are now scuba-diving lessons held in the lake, certainly a new one on us. The Mall is about to unveil it’s latest addition - a new wing with around 40 stores and a massive Nickelodeon entertainment centre. This addition will be open for business in 2018. It is really worth going a little out of London if you’re around to check out this great Shopping Mall.

The Centre is owned by major Mall company Intu, who own Shopping Centres across the UK. This MasterCard/Intu partnership means that they will eventually be rolling out the fast lane in all Intu Malls. As part of the research for the fast lane, the Mall was able to discern four different camps of people, who deal with the slow-walkers in their own special way. First there are the graceful Skaters, who glide elegantly through the obstacle. Secondly we have the Dodgers who go around rather than through. Then there are the mighty Bulldozers who, as the name suggests, will not let a few puny humans stand in their way. Lastly there are the Tutters - people who do nothing but grumble under their breath until the problem works itself out.

This poor guy trying his hardest to keep the lane clear

When it works, it works beautifully!

Now for the bad news - it doesn’t work. At all. Even with a kindly man wearing a high-vis jacket and holding a ‘speed up’ sign attempting to keep the lane clear, it was full of ambling shoppers who either noticed but didn’t care, or were so engrossed in their mobile phone they would walk straight into a pit full of spikes without realising. We recommend that maybe this is something the Mall can trial next. That said, it is a noble idea and perhaps once people get used to the idea and find it useful when they themselves require it, it will become a useful addition to Mall shoppers on a mission!

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