SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Big Y Foods here said last week it would eliminate self-checkouts in all of its stores by the end of the year, following a similar move by Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons LLC.
Big Y, which operates 61 stores in Connecticut and Massachusetts, said it had hoped the self-checkouts would speed overall checkout time when the machines were introduced in 2003, “but that has not always been the case.”
“After extensive research, Big Y has concluded that these self checkout lanes not only do not save their customers time but usually take them even more time to check out than customers in standard checkout lanes,” the company said in a prepared statement. “Self-checkout lines get clogged as the customers needed to wait for store staff to assist with problems with bar codes, coupons, payment problems and other issues that invariably arise with many transactions.”
Big Y operates about three self-checkout lanes per store, a spokeswoman for the privately owned chain told SN. The company said it will add more standard and express lanes in place of the self-checkouts.
“Our self checkout technology could not deliver on the service needs of our customers,” said Michael A. Tami, vice president for information resources and technologies at Big Y. “In short, we were not able to provide the exceptional customer service through them that has made Big Y what it is today. While other chains are opting to replace cashiers with more self checkouts, we are adding cashiers to service more standard lanes.”
In addition to Albertsons LLC, which finished removing all of its self-checkouts last month, Kroger Co., Cincinnati, also has been testing new checkout configurations, including removing self-checkouts from at least one store in favor more express lanes. Wal-Mart, too, has removed some self-checkouts, according to reports.
Christine Wilcox, a spokeswoman for Albertsons LLC, told SN last week that it received “mixed” feedback from customers about the removal of the devices.
“Some customers obviously preferred self-checkout, and they let their feelings be known on our Facebook page,” she told SN. “We also had a lot of people say positive things, and that they prefer personal service.”
She also noted that because self-checkout requires staff intervention for the use of coupons, having more staffed checkout lanes can improve checkout speed for customers with such discount offers.