This supermarket chain is eliminating self-checkout; the reason might surprise you

Go whistle yourself.

Customers of the popular British supermarket chain Booths discovered this week that the company is eliminating self-checkout lines, just six years after implementing them in its 28 exclusive stores, mostly located in the north of England.

The decision bucks a decades-long trend in which humans are increasingly becoming a rarity at the helm of supermarkets and other big-box retailers, a shift that most industry observers agree. that is unstoppable.

“We’re not big fans of automatic payments,” Booths CEO Nigel Murray said. he told British trade publication The Grocer. “We pride ourselves on our excellent customer service and that can’t be achieved through a robot.”

The do-it-yourself approach at first seemed like an attractive way to manage labor costs and increase efficiency, Murray said. But he also noted that the technology could be finicky and detract from the shopping experience.

Upscale chain Booths has decided to remove self-checkout lines over concerns about customer experience.
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A self-checkout line at a Booths store, which the company will eliminate.
Alamy Stock Photo

The stands were founded in Blackpool in 1847, supposedly with the philosophy of “selling the best goods available, in attractive shops, with first-class attendants.”

A company spokesperson he told The Guardian that the company will remove controversial lanes from all but two of its stores in the touristy Lake District, where staff can be overwhelmed during the warmer months.

“We believe that colleagues serving customers provide a better customer experience and have therefore made the decision to remove self-checkout systems in the majority of our stores,” the spokesperson said.

“We have based this not only on what we believe is right, but also on having received feedback from our customers. Delighting customers with our warm northern welcome is part of our DNA and we continue to invest in our people to ensure we stay true to that spirit.”

The upscale chain of stores located across the north of England is bucking an industry trend that some observers see as inevitable.
Alamy Stock Photo

The news comes as other retailers have publicly revealed their own difficulties automating the checkout and checkout process: Walmart recently removed self-checkout options of some of its stores without explanation, while Wegmans, a cult Rochester-based grocer with two stores in New York City and a handful in nearby suburbs, recently abandoned a popular self-checkout app, citing abuse.

“SCAN users have told us they love the app and the convenience it offers,” Wegmans said in a statement to the New York Times. “Unfortunately, the losses we are experiencing prevent us from continuing to make it available in its current state.”

According to a 2016 study quoted by the Gray LadyRetailers in the United States and Europe that offer self-checkout options experienced a shrink rate of about 4 percent, more than double the industry average.

King Charles (then Prince Charles) visited a Booths store in Kendal, Cumbria, in 2008.

The trend toward automated checkout has been partly blamed for the so-called “loneliness epidemic” said to be plaguing some Western countries, where a chat with a cashier might be the only human interaction some people experience in a day.

While self-checkout options were first introduced about twenty years ago, many businesses leaned heavily on the concept during the pandemic, when customers suddenly wanted to minimize contact with other human beings.

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