Kroger Store Ditches Cashiers for Self-Checkout Only—Will More Follow?
Customers had mixed reviews in response to the high-tech store concept.
For many shoppers, self-checkout is a no-brainer. It gets you in and out of the store quickly and with little fuss—and with multiple kiosks, the self-checkout line is often the most convenient option. Still, some of us prefer to check out with a cashier who can carefully scan our items, and maybe even let us know about any deals or sales we missed. If you're in the latter camp, you'll want to be aware that Kroger just eliminated cashiers at one store, leaving the location with self-checkout lanes only. Read on to find out whether shoppers can expect more Kroger locations to follow suit.
A Tennessee Kroger made the change to self-checkout only last Friday.
A Kroger store in Franklin, Tennessee, is piloting a self-checkout-only store.
To accommodate larger orders, Kroger implemented "new wide belt lanes," which have bagging stations at the end, NBC-affiliate WSMV reported. After scanning your items, the conveyer belt moves them down to the packaging area, solving one of the peskier problems associated with self-checkout: lack of space.
"These allow our customers to scan and bag their own items," Lauren Bell, corporate affairs manager for Kroger's Nashville division, told WKRN. "It's a fast, friendly experience."
Kroger didn't eliminate any employee positions during the conversion, which was made on Friday, July 21, WKRN reported. Some employees did have title changes, but Bell confirmed they're still available to help customers while checking out and bagging.
Bell explained that the Franklin Kroger, located in the Cool Springs Market shopping center, was selected for this trial due to the rate of customers who opt for self-checkout.
Kroger first piloted this idea in 2021.
Shoppers in Tennessee aren't the only Kroger patrons to experience stores without cashiers. In 2021, Kroger announced that a store in Dallas, Texas, would be the first to test the self-checkout-only format.
"Kroger is always looking for new ways to reinvent the checkout experience for its customers," Kroger spokeswoman April Martin told the Cincinnati Business Courier in Feb. 2021.
At the time, the outlet explained that Kroger often tests new technology at a single store before expanding, but the grocery chain hadn't confirmed whether the self-checkout-only concept would be expanded to other stores.
This week, Kroger told WSMV that another store in Hillsboro Village in Nashville will convert to this format later in 2023, but it remains unclear where else shoppers may see this concept. However, Kroger did tell WKRN that self-checkout-only isn't expected to expand to all store locations.
Best Life reached out to Kroger for comment, and will update the story upon hearing back.
Other stores have high-tech belts, but maintain cashier-manned lanes.
While some Kroger stores have eliminated cashiers entirely, other locations have undergone less drastic changes. According to ABC-affiliate WCPO, in summer 2022, Kroger introduced its new, belted self-checkout to 20 stores in the Cincinnati area.
Unlike the stores in Tennessee and Texas, however, as of Aug. 2022, these stores still had lanes with cashiers. As Kroger spokesperson Jenifer Moore told WCPO, "These stores will continue to have traditional checkout lanes with cashiers and courtesy clerks to assist customers and will also keep their existing self-checkout lanes."
WCPO noted that stores in Dayton and Troy, Ohio also have these lanes, in addition to a handful of stores in Kentucky. In December, a Kroger in Sandusky, Ohio, also added belted self-checkout lanes.
Shoppers had different opinions.
On Reddit, shoppers discussed the recent shift at the Franklin, Tennessee, store, with some speculating why the change was really made.
"Any time you go in that particular store, they would have at most ONE register open," a Redditor wrote. "Of course people are going to use self checkout more."
Others shared their opinion on the self-checkout format in general, noting that they're not overly enthusiastic about it.
"Okay, I know I'm weird but if I have more than two bags of groceries worth of stuff in my cart, I prefer an actual cashier ring up my stuff," they wrote. "I do not want self-checkout only stores."
Another added that there are often technical difficulties.
"Self checkouts are almost never self checkouts," the Redditor wrote. "They're glitchy … the scales in them often cause disruptions in the process, [and] if you buy alcohol, OTC meds, etc, you need someone to help you. If you have more than 10 items the chances of a machine glitching out and you needing an override or ID check, etc go up to like 100%. They're annoying."
Others saw no issue at all with Kroger's decision. "I'm OK with this, I'll always use self check out anyways as a preference," one comment reads.