Tesco sparks shopper fury over plans to scrap more manned checkouts across UK stores

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Tesco has announced plans to remove more staffed tills and replace them with self-service checkouts

Tesco customers have hit out the supermarket giant over its plans to replace staffed tills with more self-service checkouts.

The new self-service checkouts will be designed for customers using trolleys, whereas previously they have only been used for baskets.

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The new design means that more self-checkouts can be used as customers who have come in for a bigger shop will be able to make use of the self-service.

A woman uses a self-checkout at a TescoA woman uses a self-checkout at a Tesco
A woman uses a self-checkout at a Tesco | Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images

‘Lack of customer demand’

Tesco said its bigger self-checkout areas for trolleys were three times longer than standard sizes, meaning six bags can be packed at one.

It also said that manned checkouts were being reduced to the “lack of customer demand”.

However, the plans have proved unpopular with some customers saying they will not choose to use the self-service tills.

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One Twitter user wrote: “I hate the self-checkouts; always go to a person manning a till, say “hello”, and maybe have a short conversation. And they put the shopping through efficiently.”

A second added: “Chef at work today was telling me he was moaning at the checkout at Tesco about all the self-checkouts now. Staff are actively asking customers to boycott them. If enough people don’t use them they will be ripped out and manned tills will replace them.”

A third said: “Never used a self-checkout in any shop...don’t care how long the queue is l don’t work there so l expect to be checked out by a human.”

“I’ve never used them. I’d rather stand in a queue for ten minutes than use them. And from the amount of people who queue with me, it’s clear I’m not the only one”, a fourth added.

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A fifth wrote: ““Tesco are also heavily pushing the card only tills. Another reason to boycott them! Customer service is a thing of the past in their shops.”

Critics have also raised concerns over job security for checkout staff who could be replaced if the move goes ahead.

Staff do need to monitor self-checkouts, such as to check ID on age-restricted products or add in discounts, but they do not require the same staffing levels as conventional tills.

A Tesco spokeswoman told The Grocer: “We are proud to offer customers choice when it comes to checkouts, and after successful trials we are introducing new trolley-accessible self-service checkouts in some of our stores, which have more room and are easier to use for larger shops.

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“Our colleagues and the friendly service they provide are absolutely vital to our stores – they will always be on hand to help our customers, and will continue to operate attended checkouts so that customers can choose the option they prefer.”

Grocery Insight CEO Steve Dresser said the move was in line with an increasing trend for self-service checkouts, as well as stores looking to spend less on staff hours for front-of-store services.

He said: “It seems the stores are changing checkouts to be more self-service based with larger trolley shops included (à la Asda) and more space for scan as you shop customers too.

“They are moving to dedicated checkouts rather than empty manned checkouts, which naturally are linked to the hours given to the front end.

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“It would make sense given Asda have done the same and we know self-service and scan as you shop has grown post-Covid.

“There are benefits to this for customers, given the speed of the transaction and the ability to maintain an eye on your shopping bill (as you go around with scan as you shop).

“Of course, there are savings about losing the manned checkouts, but the reality is, you rarely see checkouts open these days en masse anyway, so it’s underutilised space.

“It’s not always positive for customers, however, as some may feel forced into self-service options.”

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