UK Supermarket Chain Ditches Self-Service Checkouts

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Booths supermarket

A UK supermarket chain is set to ditch self-checkouts in its north of England stores

Taken sides with many of its customers, Booths, the high end supermarket chain announced it is removing self-checkouts and is bringing back fully staffed tills in the majority of its stores.

Booths managing director, Nigel Murray, told the Grocer: “We’re not great fans of self-checkouts…..We pride ourselves on great customer service and you can’t do that through a robot.”

The Guardian reports: The chain is believed to be the first in the UK to go back to fully staffed tills and is swimming against the machines-tide, which has led to more big supermarkets adding trolley self-service bays to existing basket self-service and self-scan.

All of which means fewer tills staffed by human beings which, as many argue, might be the only social interaction of the day for people who live alone.

A spokesperson for Booths said the plan was to remove the self-service tills from all but two of its stores. “We believe colleagues serving customers delivers a better customer experience and therefore we have taken the decision to remove self-checkouts in the majority of our stores,” the spokesperson said. “We have based this not only on what we feel is the right thing to do but also having received feedback from our customers.”

Booths has been owned by the same family since the tea dealer Edwin Henry Booth opened its first store in Blackpool in 1847. It has 28 stores across Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire and Yorkshire and has been called a “northern Waitrose”, although it may argue that Waitrose is a “southern Booths”.

Booths said its founding philosophy was: “Sell the best goods available, in attractive stores, staffed with first class assistants.”

The spokesperson said: “Delighting customers with our warm northern welcome is part of our DNA and we continue to invest in our people to ensure we remain true to that ethos.”

The two stores where self-service would be kept were the Lake District outlets in Windermere and Kendal, which could get very busy when large numbers of tourists turned up, Murray said.

Booths began introducing self-checkouts six years ago. As with other supermarkets, it was a way of managing the wage bill and increasing efficiency, Murray said. But the technology could be problematic and detract from the enjoyment of shopping at Booths, he added.

Murray flagged the need for customers to wait for staff to visually ID them when buying alcohol as a downside, along with problems registering the correct items and weights.

The decision by Booths could be seen as a bold one, given many industry experts see machines as being vital to the future of supermarkets.

Niamh Harris
About Niamh Harris 15008 Articles
I am an alternative health practitioner interested in helping others reach their maximum potential.