MARIETTA - Those who love using the self check-out lanes at grocery stores should enjoy them while they can - they could soon be on their way out.
A recent market study indicated the use of self-serve grocery checkout scanners, used by many supermarkets for the last decade, may be waning as more shoppers are opting to deal with a live cashier.
The Associated Press reported this week that a study by the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute shows a 6 percent drop in use of the self-serve checkouts between 2008 and 2010, spurring some national grocery chains to remove self-serve scanners and return to more real live cashiers.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Samantha Whiteley rings up groceries for customer Diana Ross at Warren’s Plaza IGA on Muskingum Drive. Ross says she prefers dealing with a cashier instead of the self-serve scanners offered at some larger supermarkets.
But self-serve checkout lanes have made life somewhat easier for Denee Burton of Belpre.
"We love them," she said as she prepared to shop at the Kroger supermarket in Marietta Thursday.
"I can see exactly how much I'm spending and if I'm getting close to my limit I can set some things aside," Burton said. "My kids love to use the scanners and it helps teach them money management. And I can bag my own groceries."
At a Glance
In 2010 16 percent of customer transactions were performed at self-serve checkouts in supermarkets that offered the service.
In 2008 self-serve checkouts represented 22 percent of those supermarkets' total transactions.
Source: Associated Press and the Food Marketing Institute, www.fmi.org.
The self check-out is an option at Kroger and Wal-Mart in Marietta and the lanes were installed at Giant Eagle but later removed.
Kroger customers Becky and Larry Taylor, of Marietta, said they prefer the traditional way of checking out.
"I think it's less confusing if you have a cashier," Becky Taylor said. "I never use (self-serve checkouts)."
"I use them sometimes if I only have a few things to pick up," Larry Taylor said. "But I wouldn't miss them if they were taken out."
Kroger corporate officials said they have no plans to remove their self-serve scanners.
And Ashley Hardie, media relations manager for Wal-Mart, said the company plans to not only keep existing self-serve areas but to continue to install more.
"Wal-Mart began utilizing self-checkouts around 1998 and has approximately 1,600 stores with self-checkouts," Hardie said.
"We continue to add self-checkouts to stores based on customer feedback and space availability," she added.
Giant Eagle in Marietta had self-serve checkout lanes at one time but later removed the devices.
"We continually monitor the preferences of our customers and in most markets our customers appreciate having the option to use our self-checkout services," Giant Eagle spokesman Brock Schmaltz said.
"However, based on customer preferences, we do occasionally adjust offerings and expand or reduce self checkout lanes on a store-by-store basis," he said. "To best serve the interests of our Marietta Giant Eagle customers, we removed self-checkout lines from this store some time ago."
Randy Nolan Jr., of Marietta said he would miss self-serve checkouts.
"I use them all the time, whenever I can because I don't like waiting in long lines," he said.
Marietta resident Carol Ruffing agreed.
"I do miss the checkouts at Giant Eagle," she said. "And I use the ones at Walmart unless I have a large order."
Smaller neighborhood grocery customers seem happy with their cashiers, though.
"I don't like to use those things," Warren's IGA customer Diana Ross said of the self-serve scanners.
"I like the regular checkouts and the regular cashiers," she said.
Bryan Spindler, manager of Sponey's IGA supermarket in Beverly, said that's one reason why his store hasn't installed self-serve checkouts. "We looked into it but wanted to keep people in contact with people at our store," he said. "And for some people from the older generation, the self-serve scanners can be intimidating. We just weren't comfortable with that technology and also didn't want to lose our workforce."