Personally, I dislike self-checkout lanes in stores - for three reasons.  First, I like the interaction of dealing with another human being.  Second, I believe in businesses employing people.  And last -but not least - I believe that if a customer is to be expected to do the duties that an employee would normally be expected to, the business should offer me some sort of financial reward for doing so (I.E. - give me a discount on the goods and services)

It appears that I'm not alone.  A lot of grocery chains are getting rid of their self-serve lines in favor of good old-fashioned customer service.

Big Y Foods, which has 61 locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts, recently became one of the latest to announce it was phasing out the self-serve lanes. Some other regional chains and major players, including some Albertsons locations, have also reduced their unstaffed lanes and added more clerks to traditional lanes.

Bottom line:  the self-checkout lines weren't popular with customers.

Market studies cited by the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute found only 16% of supermarket transactions in 2010 were done at self-checkout lanes in stores that provided the option. That's down from a high of 22% three years ago.

Overall, people reported being much more satisfied with their supermarket experience when they used traditional cashier-staffed lanes.

These results fly in the face of what grocery store owners expected.

Supermarket chains started introducing self-serve lanes about 10 years ago, touting them as an easy way for shoppers to scan their own items' bar codes, pay, bag their bounty and head out on their way. Retailers also anticipated a labor savings, potentially reducing the number of cashier shifts as they encouraged shoppers to do it themselves.

The reality, though, was mixed. Some shoppers loved them and were quick converts, while other reactions ranged from disinterest to outright hatred — much of it shared on blogs or in Facebook groups.


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