Self-checkout at grocery stores coming and going [POLL]

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Self-checkout lanes are convenient for shoppers but, unfortunately, they're also convenient for thieves. That's the reason some stores are pulling out the self-service options. Other stores like Fry's, however, are embracing it more than ever and customers tell us they appreciate the options.

Any time you give the customer more options it's a win-win,” said Fry’s store manager Shawn Woleck.

Fry's customers can choose the regular checkout line, the express lane or the self-service kiosks. The way most customers decide which option is best for them is convenience.

“It just depends how many cashiers are working and how many people are in line,” Fry's shopper Kathy said.

“It depends on how much stuff and how much produce -- we have to look up the codes -- and all that kind of stuff,” Billy McGonigle said.

Customers at Safeway agree that self-checkout is convenient. 

“I use it as often as possible unless I have a lot of things,” Craig Huffman said.

That convenience is the reason more and more retailers are implementing self-checkout.

Still, there are at least two retailers that have reported problems with the concept. Both Albertsons and New England-based Big Y say customer service and problems with shoplifting are reasons enough for them to ditch the self-checkout option.

In fact, according to one industry research firm, theft -- intentional or not -- is five times higher with self-checkout than it is with a cashier. But Fry's doesn't seem to have that problem.

“This is on a weighted system so if you put something in the bag not rung up yet it tells the attendant something got added that wasn't on it,” Woleck explained. “If people are going to steal, they are going to steal. This is not the location from which they will necessarily steal.”

From a customer-service standpoint, Fry's looks at this as four more lanes always open and available to its customers.

“Plus, the attendant is always here to help every customer there so it's not a lack of customer service, it's just a different option if the customer wants it,” Woleck said.

Overall, retail associations expect the self-service option to grow by at least 10 percent this year.

Not only is it convenient but it also cuts down on labor costs, which may explain why many more retailers are moving in this direction, specifically pharmacies like CVS and hardware stores like Home Depot.