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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

May I Help Myself? The Decline Of Self-Checkouts

Self checkouts, like this one at Costco, have met with mixed results, with several major chains. (Courtesy: Kirby Urner)

Self checkouts, like this one at Costco, have met with mixed results, with several major chains deciding to pull them out of stores. (Courtesy: Kirby Urner)

Self-service technology was supposed to speed up service and save retailers money by reducing the number of employees. But a recent study by the Arlington , Virginia-based Food Marketing Institute shows that in 2010, customers at self-checkout stores only used them about 16 percent of the time. That’s down from 22 percent three years ago.

Meanwhile, some major chains, including Big Y, with stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and Idaho-based Albertsons, have eliminated their self-checkout lanes.

Is this a reverse trend? Or are stores waiting to see what the next evolution of self-service technology will be?


  • David Livingston, an independent supermarket consultant based in Milwaukee , Wisc.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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