Tesco trolley self checkout

Source: Tesco

The supermarket said recent trials of trolley self-checkouts had proved successful

Tesco is removing the main banks of manned checkouts from a raft of its larger stores in a big shift towards a reliance on self-service checkouts.

While it is keeping some managed checkouts open in the stores involved, the supermarket said trials of new self-checkouts designed for trolleys had proved successful. A “lack of customer demand” meant it could afford to switch the focus from the old-style checkouts, it said.

Experts said the move meant Tesco was able to re-purpose floor areas left by the removed checkouts and save on staff costs.

The move is also said to coincide with Tesco parting ways with checkout technology provider NCR Global and instead using Tesco’s own tills.

Grocery Insight CEO Steve Dresser said it 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.

“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,” he said.

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

“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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IGD insights analyst Bryan Roberts added: “I believe it’s a sizeable chunk of stores that are going through this.

“It’s highly unusual for all of the tills to be manned anyway.”

However, Roberts said the move would also allow Tesco to look at utilising the space for other sales such as confectionery.

“It does potentially allow them to open up areas of the store to become HFSS-compliant.

“It would create a potential home for seasonal sales of this like confectionery which we could during Halloween, Christmas, Easter and other seasonal events. It seems to be what retailers are looking at.”

Roberts said it came as part of a huge investment by retailers ahead of the October ban.

“Most retailers are creating in-aisle promotional space and back-aisle promotions for HFSS. It’s arguably more impactful than gondola ends and all totally compliant.

“But if removing the tills is a tactic to come it will only work in the larger Extra stores where they have got the space.”

Another source said: “Supermarkets are reaching a tipping point where 80% of sales are now self-checkout, so I think this is something we will see more of, although there will always, I think, be people who want to use manned tills.

“We could see supermarkets look at extending their power aisles into this vacated space, or look at other elements such as cafés.”

Tesco stressed the bagging areas in the new trolley-accessible self-service checkouts were three times as long as those in standard self-service checkouts, allowing for up to six bags to be packed at once.

“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,” said a Tesco spokeswoman.

“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.”