The somnambulistic shopper can often be observed in the aisles of food stores and supermarkets on weeknights, usually after 6 pm. Victims are invariably on their way home from work, and the common thread with these individuals is a trilogy of fatigue, a low blood glucose and a strong suspicion that the contents of the refrigerator may be of dubious wholesomeness.

Their ambulatory movements vary from a gentle wafting to a halting gait. The sufferer will often stop unexpectedly, staring for several seconds at items without seeming to register.

The hallmark trait of the sleeping shopper is the trance-like stance in front of the deli section. Offers of assistance from the attendant go unanswered or are met with a vacant smile. Then in a valiant effort to save face, often an impulsive and inappropriate selection is made.

The most extreme examples may come to a complete standstill for a minute or more, perhaps in front of the frozen goods. What usually galvanises them back into motion is when they come close to syncope and literally shock themselves back into consciousness to prevent falling over.

Victims may carry a shopping basket although those who are aware of their condition may wisely push a shopping trolley to aid their balance. Some will have neither a trolley nor a basket but will balance several items in their arms. They will use their teeth to secure a last minute item found near the checkout counter, usually a chocolate bar.

Once out in the car park, you will find these poor individuals quietly looking for their car whilst vaguely trying to retrieve a Mars bar from the bottom of their shopping bag.

You have probably seen or experienced somnambulistic shopping yourself. Like any somnambulist, they are best left undisturbed. Human intervention could cause unnecessary stress and confusion.

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