Why won’t Asda allow its crowd-control benches in front of its London store?

What could possibly go wrong?

British supermarket chain Asda took issue with an approximately 1,000-person queue at a sprawling sidewalk near Shoreditch High Street, its flagship London store, and told customers that they were a “health and safety hazard.” Instead of allowing people to stand in the middle of the sidewalk, as they do during the big rush on Black Friday, Asda placed nine steel benches in front of the line.

In a statement sent to The Guardian and similar outlets, Asda said that the store “has a responsibility to ensure that our customers can safely access all parts of the store while shopping.” The incident has sparked considerable social media backlash — as did a similar incident this year in which a woman was clobbered by a shopping cart at a Nordstrom at the Grove in Los Angeles.

The Guardian reported that a petition had been launched to allow shoppers to cross the sidewalk, but Asda said in its statement that the benches were “standard procedure used by major stores such as Asda in their layouts and layouts are always subject to review.”

The men I work with believe that the partitions are much ado about nothing https://t.co/IRGn9ce5Zz — PC Leisure (@Public_Service) June 22, 2018

The benches look like sturdy barriers. Would any vendor or fast food place find it attractive to put benches along their entrance to block regular people from doing business? Like, no thank you. — Cefraz @ Village Kitchen (@niobeca) June 22, 2018

There’s a straight line to these things – supermarkets realize people in the UK eat much more prepared food, take their food out a lot more, eat at the kitchen table, a lot more prepared food, take it outside more, take it outside more, use stairwells more – looks better in these pictures than actually trying to see how far people are getting. — Steve Mitchell (@mitchwrites) June 23, 2018

Is Asda’s “Health and Safety” shtick really as clever as it appears? Considering there are more people at the Asda queue than there are signs that say “No Standing,” it’s fair to wonder if this is the smartest thing the supermarket has tried yet. — GuardianLeafknocker (@Leafknocker) June 22, 2018

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