THE NEW YORK TIMES – When it comes to grocery shopping, there seem to be two kinds of people in this world: those who prefer self-checkout, and those who prefer interaction with a human.
Booths, a small chain that has sold groceries in northern England since 1847, has decided its customers belong to the latter category and announced this week that it will be getting rid of the self-checkouts in all but two of its 28 stores.
They’re bucking a trend that has remade retail shopping around the world over the last 20 years.
ImageA small blue shopping cart in the center of the frame sits in front of a self-checkout machine. There are unidentifiable people to the left and right of it.
Many stores expanded their self-checkout capabilities during the pandemic.Credit…Ariana Drehsler for The New York Times
“Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.”
When everything goes right, it can be the quickest way out of a store: Stack your groceries, swipe a credit card, bag them, move on. The whole thing should be over in a matter of minutes.
But that’s not always the reality. The machine doesn’t recognize your spaghetti.
You clicked the picture of a zucchini on the screen, but what you have in your basket is a cucumber. And buying something like alcohol or medicine still means you have to wait for a store worker to come over.
“Unknown items in the bagging area.”
“There’s always a problem,” said Sandra Abittan as she walked out of a local Tesco supermarket in northwest London on Friday, noting that she often has to wait for assistance when using a self-checkout.
But she said she usually still chooses them, because she finds their lines tend to be shorter …