Kroger Is the Latest Store Pulling Away From Self-Checkout
More and more retailers are beginning to rethink their use of self-checkout kiosks.
Over the last several years, it's become less and less likely for you to interact with an actual worker during the checkout process. Companies like Amazon debuted entirely cashierless concepts, while other major retailers moved more self-checkout machines into their spaces. But what was once considered technology fit for stores of the future may soon become a thing of the past. Many retailers have started pulling away from self-checkout, with grocery giant Kroger becoming the latest to do so.
Just three years ago, Kroger seemed to have a lot of faith in self-checkout. In Feb. 2021, the retailer took all cashiers out of one of its stores in Dallas. The Kroger located at 4141 Cedar Springs Road in Dallas' Oak Lawn neighborhood was converted into an all self-checkout store as a test for the company, The Dallas Morning News reported.
"We are always looking for new ways to reinvent the checkout experience for customers. The way people shop evolves constantly," Kroger spokeswoman April Martin told the newspaper at the time. "Look at how fast new demographics are adopting online services and purchases. This is just a part of Kroger listening to the market."
But after three years of being the only all self-checkout Kroger out of 2,700 U.S. stores, the store's experiment is coming to a close. On Jan. 31, The Dallas Morning News reported that cashiers were returning to the Oak Lawn Kroger.
"We listened closely to customer feedback and made the decision to convert back to hosting staffed checkout lanes at this store," Kroger spokesman John Votava told the newspaper.
According to Votava, the grocer started converting the store back to a mix of staffed and self-checkout lanes on Jan. 30.
But Kroger is hardly the first retailer to rethink their use of this technology. Back in September, the Albuquerque Journal reported that Walmart had stripped self-checkout machines from two stores in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and that the company was also in the process of renovating another location in the area to replace self-checkout lanes.
"We continually look at ways to provide our customers with the best shopping experience and that includes adjusting the checkout area in stores," Walmart spokesperson Josh Havens told Insider at the time.
Then during a Dec. 7 earnings call, Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos admitted that the company had started to "rely too much" on self-checkouts in its stores throughout 2023.
"We should be using self-checkout as a secondary checkout vehicle, not a primary," Vasos said, noting that Walmart would be increasing "employee presence at the front end of [its] stores and in particular, the checkout area."
Retail theft concerns have also played a major part in the recent reversal, CNN reported. According to the news outlet, Wegmans discontinued a mobile app that allowed customers to check themselves out after experiencing financial losses, and Five Below said it planned to increase the number of staffed cash registers in new locations after finding that shrink at stores with more self-checkout lanes was higher.
"I think we are going to see the demise of self-checkouts very soon," food industry analyst Phil Lempert told local Milwaukee, Wisconsin, CBS-affiliate WDJT in a Nov. 2023 interview. "It's a horrible experience."