Cold Supermarkets

Why is it that my wife has to don a sweater in the middle of July when she enters a Supermarket? Why do the supermarkets keep their temps so low? Even the cashiers are sweatered. Could all of that cold air act as a deterrent to bugs? Is that the reason?

Where are you located? As a rule, I don’t find supermarkets in Toronto to be especially cold. (Air conditioned, yes, but not freezing.)

On the other hand, a friend of mine lived in Texas for a while, and he was always cold in public buildings in the summer (supermarket, schools, offices, etc.).

Think about the layout of the typical supermarket: the entire store is ringed with open refrigerated cases. Produce, meat, seafood, deli, dairy, frozen food, these things are all prominently displayed in open refrigerated shelves surrounding the entire store, which pump cold air into the center area of the store 24/7/365.

If the chiller cabinets are open to the air, then heating the store up will make them work harder, which increases their costs.

Or, to put it the other way, actively air-conditioning the store will let the refrigerated cases work less hard. This means you can use smaller refrigeration units on the cases and they’ll last longer with less maintenance, so there is enough savings to pay for running the big air-conditioning unit for the store interior.

All this may be true, but when you walk in on a hot day, they want you to be so relieved by the a/c that you might just stay a little longer and shop a little more. Another wild guess is that running the a/c more will lower the humidity inside and help the produce last longer.

I would imagine that even among the non-refrigerated items, they want to keep their stock from getting too hot and humid. For example, it would be a problem if it got warm enough for chocolate items to get soft and melty.

Actually if your AC unit is too big it won’t run enough to get the humidity down. That applies to your house, it might be true for a store too. Of course in a place like Arizona humidity does not matter.

I’d like to know why the post offices are kept at a temperature between 40 and 50 degrees. Is everybody shipping shrimp?

It’s my experience (admittedly very limited) that people in the South (especially in Texas) set the air conditioning very low more often than not. I didn’t find grocery stores any colder than other public buildings, and quite a few private homes were colder still.

Well, it has the opposite effect on me; I get so uncomfortably chilly that I try to rush through ASAP. I end up feeling relief stepping back out into heat (and I am NOT a fan of hot weather).

I think you are all over thinking this.

The temperatures end up really low in various retail stores because the guys working the back room tend to be the only ones in a store that know where the thermostat is. They set it to make the dock area where they work to be more comfortable. It makes the rest of the store colder.