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This UK supermarket chain is the first to ditch self-service checkouts

It’s in response to customers calling the machines slow, unreliable and impersonal

Amy Houghton
Written by
Amy Houghton

If the words ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ haunt you in your sleep, we’ve got some exciting news. In some supermarkets across the north of England, self-service checkouts are set to be no more. 

Apparently in response to customer demand, supermarket chain Booths (often described as the ‘Waitrose of the north’) is axing almost all of its self-service tills. The chain runs 28 shops in the north of the country and has announced that all but their Keswick and Windermere branches will have exclusively staffed checkouts. The decision makes it the first supermarket to move away from the machines.

Nigel Murray, Booths’ managing director, told BBC Radio Lancashire: ‘Our customers have told us this over time, that the self-scan machines that we’ve got in our stores, they can be slow, they can be unreliable, they’re obviously impersonal.

‘We are a business that prides ourselves on the high standards and high levels of warm, personal care. We like to talk to people and we’re really proud that we’re moving largely to a place where our customers are served by people, by human beings, so rather than artificial intelligence, we’re going for actual intelligence.’ 

Not everyone supports the decision, with many pointing out that the machines help to move queues faster during busy periods. But there’s definitely plenty of support for the move. A petition to get Tescos to ‘​​stop the replacement of people by machines’ apparently gathered almost 250,000 signatures.

So, is this the start of the anti-AI revolution? Hmm, probably not. But it’s a win for good old face-to-face interaction! 

Checking out supermarket news at Time Out

So much of our lives revolves around which shops we go to and what we buy – and, from new openings by the likes of Aldi and M&S to mass-closures by Wilko (see a full list of high-street closures here), Time Out covers it all. Plus, remember our feature on whether unstaffed supermarkets are bad for London’s soul?

Did you see that this Welsh stadium has been voted the best in Europe?

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