Poll & Discussion: Self check-out or cashier-assisted checkout?

Note: This topic was originally posted as a reply to Kroger Has a Plan to Stop Theft (Walmart and Target Might Follow), but I’ve split it off as a separate topic so we don’t hijack the original intent of @rolandh’s topic!

I doubt the credibility of the article from the first sentence, and have trouble reading on.

Few consumers want to use self-checkout.


What is that based on?

Ok granted I’m full-on one of these people:

Aside from people who don’t like making small talk with a clerk

But does that really make me one of a few? Are there really people who prefer to get in a line and have a stranger handle everything they are buying, and kerplunk their carefully selected fruit into a bag from 3’ above, then drop canned goods on top?


Wow. Do you miss the days of gas station full service, too?

Which kind of shopper are you, given only these two choices?

  • Self checkout
  • Cashier checkout
0 voters

My favorite (if I must enter the store!) is my local bulk club, where I can scan items as I shop, pay in the app, and skip the registers altogether.


I love Walmart curbside pickup!
I did get the $50/year Walmart Plus special they offered recently.
Hopefully they will take that in lieu of a curbside pickup fee (if they start charging one).


Really depends for me, if I have a lot of stuff a cashier will usually get it done faster than I would. Self checkout for a handful of items.


I use both Sams and BJs scan-while-shopping options. Only time I had a problem was when I accidentally grabbed a slightly different item at Sams thinking I had two of the same.

On the other hand, I’ve had to give up on using Meijer Shop and Scan. I always get tagged for cashier check, and sometimes that takes longer than going through the non-express lines would because they can’t always keep adequate staffing levels in the checkout area… After a couple of cases of milk spoiling before I could finish it because of how long I had to wait on cashier check while it warmed up, I wrote off the feature as less than useless. Since I cannot know ahead of time how long it till take a cashier to get over to me for the check, any time savings are presumed lost and spoilage becomes an issue on the more delicate refrigerated/frozen foodstuffs.

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I would have responded to the poll except you didn’t provide an option for those of us with no preference. I choose whichever option looks like it will get me out the door the fastest. When I have a full basket that is usually a regular cashier since the typical self checkout has limited room for holding checked items. The exception to this is BJ’s where they have full self checkout belts. The funny thing is many times when we go BJ’s there are lines for the self checkouts and none for the cashiers. Our local Walmart has a couple of self checkout belt too but they are never open. Then again neither are most of their cashier lines.

As to feeling the need to talk to the cashier beyond the communication required to complete the transaction I feel no need to chit chat. I do say “thank you” when leaving but that is about it. About the only place I can think of where I do chit chat is at the Post Office. I’ve known Miss Beverly since we moved here 25 years ago and it just wouldn’t seem right to not keep each other updated on family and related things.


Okay, what if they were both equidistance to the door, free of lines, and the cashier looked alert, competent, and poised to scan? All things equal, which would you pick?

I appreciate the question wasn’t directed to me per se. Then it would depend on other variables.

How many items do I have in my cart? If just a few I’d probably use self-checkout to allow someone who might come behind me with a full cart not to wait for the cashier. If my cart is full, I’d visit the cashier.

If I only had a few items most likely whichever one I passed first. If I had a larger number of items the cashier as on average they tend to be faster than the self-checkout lines (which are lower priority when it comes to network and server access).

How’s that for fence sitting? :grin:

It was just a simple question. In general, setting other factors aside, which would you prefer?

C’mon, I think you and @rolandh are both trying to yank my chain. How on earth do you ever get through a day with such complex logic trees surrounding everything you do?! How do you not starve when it’s time to decide what you’ll eat for lunch?!

Next you’ll say, we’ll, if I have 27 items and some of them are paper products and the end of the store near self-checkout is flooded but the end of the store near the cashier is on fire, I’ll go to self-checkout because paper products would catch fire easily. And Roland will say, “if I’m buying an inflatable raft, I’d go to the flooded end and let others ride in my raft while they check out.”


Wait, really? You know this to be a fact?

I’ve seen this at BJ’s, too, and it’s really awkward when the cashiers start trying to direct people to come to their empty lanes and it’s like, “No, no thanks, I’ll wait over here in this line and do it myself.”

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Not at all and no complex decision trees are involved. It’s a similar choice to the one I make when deciding to use the 12 items or less checkout or regular checkout when both are equally available. I genuinely have no preference and will use whatever option I think will get me out of the store fastest.

This is so over the top as to be absurd!

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I like Target in-store or curbside pickup. If I know what I want and don’t need to select them (like fruit, etc.), it’s great. I sometimes combine an online pickup order plus in-store shopping – I shop for things I need to browse through, then on my way out, pick up the items I ordered. It makes my shopping trip better.

I also do this with Petco. Most of the store I don’t need to go through – the bird or fish sections. So I order (pet food, treats) online and pick up in the store. Also, with online orders Petco offers anywhere from 15-25% off (the offers vary). So I actually save money and time doing this – I walk in and walk right out. Done!

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and then there are these:

A Dutch supermarket chain introduced slow checkouts for people who enjoy chatting, helping many people, especially the elderly, deal with loneliness. The move has proven so successful that they installed the slow checkouts in 200 stores. : MadeMeSmile (reddit.com)

Got time? At this slow grocery store check-out lane, a leisurely chat is OK | CBC News


For two companies yes. The large outfit based in Arkansas and the largest supermarket chain. Though it has been some years since I retired I doubt they have changed. The rational is to keep the paid employees working and not slow down the line when there is heavy traffic. For individuals however a little slow down does not really make a difference.

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I always do self checkout when it is available.
My Lidl doesn’t have self checkout, but at least their checkouts are designed for you to bag your own stuff.
I moved to the US in a time period when reusable grocery bags hadn’t really caught on here yet, but in my home country people bag their own stuff and were bringing their own bags. So cashier-assisted checkout over here was stressful.
At Kroger near closing time, the clerk said, “your cart is very full you should go to the regular checkout…oh it’s you, you’ll be done in no time, you can use the self checkout, it’s fine.” :sweat_smile:
The self checkout here can be a bit more annoying with requiring employee intervention, but it’s still the best choice for me.


Not sure if this article is behind a paywall (I have an Atlantic subscription), but it’s relevant to the current topic:

It does seem to be behind a paywall, with just enough exposed to make it clear that someone doesn’t like self-checkout.

You know how this process actually goes by now: You still have to wait in line.

Okay, did you think self checkout was reserved just for your own special self?

The checkout kiosks bleat and flash when you fail to set a purchase down in the right spot.

I haven’t experienced any bleating and flashing, but yes, we’re expected to actually pay for the items we leave the store with, so putting unpaid items in the bagging area is going to trigger some sort of reminder.

Scanning those items is sometimes a crapshoot—wave a barcode too vigorously in front of an uncooperative machine, and suddenly you’ve scanned it two or three times.

Okaaaay… Why are you waving it? You’re probably one of those people who taps the phone screen harder and harder if it doesn’t do what you want it to do on the first tap, aren’t you.

Then you need to locate the usually lone employee charged with supervising all of the finicky kiosks,

Right, it’s the kiosk that’s being finicky…

who will radiate exasperation at you while scanning her ID badge and tapping the kiosk’s touch screen from pure muscle memory.

Maybe try saying something nice to her instead of grumbling about the finicky kiosk.

If you want to buy something that even might carry some kind of arbitrary purchase restriction—not just obvious things such as alcohol, but also products as seemingly innocuous as a generic antihistamine—well, maybe don’t do that.

Because the store has to follow laws?

Did the tone change at all before the end of the article, @psteckler, or are we all doomed to the loss of self-checkout because it doesn’t meet the author’s expectations?

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At the end of the article, it’s mentioned that Kroger is trying out stores that have only self-checkout. So, not going away any time soon.

Myself, if I have just a few items (the usual case these days), I’ll happily use the self-checkout.

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I actively avoid self checkout.
There’s a Walmart that only has self checkout. I will never go there again.

I’m aware of the scrutiny of the multiple camera angles and AI systems tracking and scanning my person while in self checkout. I prefer not to be scanned and digitally prodded.

There are also many cases of people accused of theft at self checkout. When I hand it over to a cashier, whatever they put in the bag is out of my hands and separates me from that suspicion and false accusations.

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This is a legit question, I’m not being snarky: Are there any fewer cameras at the cashier checkout?

It seems to me there are plenty in both places, as well as all over the store.

With a baby and a pandemic arriving in early 2020 we got accustomed to using curbside pickup for our weekly grocery order. If I’m shopping in-store I’ll typically go for the cashier line.