By Quentin Fottrell
Shoppers have hailed self-service supermarket registers as a solution to long lines and surly salespeople. But stores counter that they’ve become a big problem.
Several supermarkets – including Big Y and Albertsons – are phasing out machines that let consumers scan and bag groceries solo, reports CBSNews.com. Now, it’s back to the regular check-out lines.
Part of the problem: shoppers aren’t honest. A study from Big Y Foods, which has 61 locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts, found both accidental and intentional theft common. Some people incorrectly identified produce. Others just took the opportunity to bag items without paying. In a statement, Big Y told Pay Dirt that self-checkout also makes it easier to misuse coupons because there isn’t someone looking over your shoulder to check that the coupon is being used for the right product.
On top of that, self-registers may not be the time savers many shoppers believe they are, say experts. “For fruits and vegetables you have to find the code, key in the code and sometimes you get it wrong,” says independent retail analyst Jeff Green. “It’s a big hassle. Plus, if you make a mistake it takes a human to come over to you to fix it.” Indeed, fewer people are using the machines. In stores where self-service lanes are available, self-checkout represented 16% of transactions last year, down from 22% three years ago, according to a study by the Food Marketing Institute.
Do you find these scanners convenient or a hassle?