British Supermarket Chain Turns Down its Checkout Beeps Out of Respect for the Queen

The apparently unannounced tribute lead to some confounded customers.

An employee scans milk bottle barcodes at a checkout counter inside a Morrisons supermarket
Photo: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg via Getty Images

The r/BritishProblems subreddit is a delightful collection of some of the most minor inconveniences that the English have to endure, including the frustration that grocers may be allowed to use imperial measurements instead of the metric system; the irritation that no one checked their train tickets on a trip to London; and the annoyance of how expensive a meal at Five Guys can be. (OK, that particular complaint isn't limited to the United Kingdom.)

Earlier this week, one UK-based Redditor added their own contribution, noting that it was difficult to tell that they'd scanned any of their groceries at the Morrisons self-checkout, because the supermarket chain had turned off their beeps out of respect for the late Queen Elizabeth. "It wasn't until it was my turn and I found that they had turned off the beep," a user called u/Willyamsss wrote.

"One of the assistants came over when I inevitably upset the machine, so I said 'I think people are struggling as the beep is off.' She said 'Did you not know we are in a period of national mourning? We have turned off all beeps as a sign of respect,' as if I was meant to know this. I still don't think I understand."

Whether the Redditor slightly misunderstood the situation, or whether the Morrisons worker was mildly misinformed, that's not entirely true. A spokesperson for the supermarket chain told The Northern Echo that the checkout beeps had not been turned off, but the volume had been lowered. But all of the music and loudspeaker announcements have been temporarily switched off in all Morrisons locations.

Morrisons has also confirmed that all of its stores in the UK will be closed on Monday, which is the day of Queen Elizabeth's funeral. "All our supermarkets will be closed on Monday 19 September as a mark of respect and so colleagues can pay tribute to Her Majesty," the chain tweeted.

A number of other UK grocery chains have also announced plans to close either all day on Monday, or for most of the day. Aldi, Asda, and Sainsbury's will be entirely closed on Monday. Tesco will be closing all of its large supermarkets, while Tesco Express stores will only be open from 5 p,m. through 10 p.m., and Co-Op stores will be closed until 5 p.m. Waitrose is closing all but six of its stores in London and Windsor, which it says will remain open "to serve people lining the route of the funeral procession," but even those locations will close during the service itself.

Earlier this week, the Royal Parks organization asked mourners who are paying their respects to Her Majesty to do so with flowers instead of marmalade sandwiches. The treats have been stacking up in honor of the Queen, largely because of her recent appearance in a YouTube sketch with Paddington Bear, in which they both revealed their love for the sandwiches. "We are asking people not to leave marmalade sandwiches because of the negative impact on the park's wildlife, the agency said.

Now that sounds like a British problem.

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