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KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-newssince 2002
28th January 2021


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An email I received following last week's leader in which I wrote about the loss of personal contact when we shop online rather than in store, brought up another issue I'd not addressed - that of unmanned checkouts.

Nick Wigson, senior inventory coordinator, Hafele UK, wrote: "What a lovely intro. I regularly sell at car boots and get people who spend a lot of time telling me stories; in the back of my mind I think the same as you wrote: that this person might not talk to another soul all day. Also with the loss of smaller retail outlets is the loss of the personal touch and one-to-one attention. The out-of-town shops are large and staffed by young men and women on low salaries who are generally doing all the jobs needed in these types of stores: stocktaking, tidying, taking money etc, so they don't have the time (or inclination) to interact in a meaningful way with individuals. One reason I always go to a manned till is to have a natter with the staff and generally they welcome a bit of a giggle."

I always use manned tills too, but not just because I can chat to staff & help save jobs - I hate being told off by the woman in the machine! So many times I've just left my shopping and gone elsewhere, when there isn't the option of a manned till and I've frozen the hi-tech version. I'm not stupid by any means, but I certainly look it when trying to work out where to put my bags - maybe because I'm left-handed - and when I can put scanned stuff into them! I daresay you'll have done it too (and yes, I know there isn't really anyone in the machine but the loud voice and its tone make me feel as if the idea is to draw everyone's attention to the "unexpected item in the bagging area" in the hope that if one of us is deliberately bagging something we've not scanned, we'll be stopped in our tracks since everyone queuing behind us is now watching us suspiciously).

One store I'd regularly frequent, replaced all its manned checkouts with self-serve versions. I've not shopped there since. While I realise that installing them saves shopkeepers money as they're not forking out for salaries, sick pay, pensions, maternity leave etc, I do wonder whether, in the long run, it turns out to be a false economy...


Jan Hobbs



20th July 2019

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