DIY attitudes expanding

An article in today’s Christchurch Press about self checkouts:

“Self-service lanes are proving so popular, the days of the Canterbury supermarket “checkout chick” could be numbered…

What’s the appeal? “For some people I think there is a psychological element to it,” says retail analyst Tim Morris of Coriolis Research. “You feel little bit more in control.” Then there is the anti-social factor. People don’t always feel like dealing with a fellow human, he says. Long years of using eftpos and automatic bank tellers have softened New Zealanders up for processing their own payments, says Morris. “The funny thing is [people] say the reason they use them is because it is quicker, but in actual fact it is slower,” says Morris…

Then there are the pitfalls of wrong weights and “unauthorised items” in the bagging area – measures designed to help supermarkets prevent theft.

“Ninety-nine per cent of people are honest and have better things to do than get almonds for peanut prices,” says Morris. But with low margins, supermarkets cannot afford to lose even a packet of razors very often. “They [DIY tellers] are pretty good on the weights now . . . you put your car keys down and it goes ‘something’s wrong here’.”

That might be one reason why New Zealand supermarkets say self service is not an excuse to cut staff. Staff members need to stand there to help people through the process and check the ages of shoppers buying alcohol. But Morris says there is clearly a benefit for retailers. At least some of the extra staff will be able to go and stack shelves or do other tasks, he says. “A smaller supermarket might have had eight checkouts and now they will have five checkouts and another five [automatic tellers].”