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Business & Economy

Self-checkouts are getting sacked at Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions

Customers at a store's self-checkout area.
Customers at a store's self-checkout area.
Flickr user Pin add (Creative Commons)

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Would you like paper or plastic?

How about a human?

Self-checkout lanes will disappear at a quarter of the Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions throughout Southern California, with the chains' parent company saying customers will get better service with a shift back to in-person cashiers.

"They're eliminating them because there's shopper dissatisfaction," says grocery analyst Burt Flickinger from the firm Strategic Resource Group. 

Self-checkouts were most effective in understaffed stores, but customers had several issues with them including coupons not scanning and longer wait times when there were issues.

Plus, they just preferred a human interaction.

"Customers definitely missed people," says Flickinger.

Machines were not always as effective as manned registers, either.

"The chains that do not have self-checkout – CostCo, Smart & Final, etc – have always gotten good grades for having staffed cash registers and being more efficient with people," he says. 

He believes other grocery chains in Southern California may follow suit.

To hear the whole interview, click on the audio player above