Efficiency vs friendly faces: Over 60s sound off on the self-service checkout revolution

Dec 14, 2023
Self-service showdown: Champions of efficiency or a loss of human touch? Source: Getty Images.

Nowadays the discussion around self-service checkouts is buzzing. On one side, proponents hail them as the pinnacle of efficiency, offering a swift escape from traditional shopping lines. Yet, on the flip side, skeptics raise concerns about the human touch slipping away, replaced by the cold efficiency of machines.

As technology continues to permeate every facet of our lives, the debate surrounding self-service checkouts has become a contentious issue among our Starts at 60 readers.  Delving deeper into the debate surrounding self-service checkouts, we reached out to our Starts at 60 community for insights. The viewpoints revealed were as diverse as the items on the supermarket shelves, highlighting that there are strong arguments on both sides.

On one side of the debate, some over 60s sing the praises of self-service checkouts. For them, the convenience of swift transactions and shorter queues is a game-changer.

They appreciate the autonomy these machines provide, allowing them to scan and bag their items at their own pace.

In an increasingly fast-paced world, the efficiency of self-service checkouts aligns with the desire for a quick and seamless shopping experience.

“Love them. Won’t use anything else. I like to do my own scanning & packing. Don’t trust anyone else,” one reader said.

“Always use self check out I like serving myself,” another said.

One reader enjoyed “the convenience of them”, relishing that they “don’t have to wait in line with 12 items”.

Another reader also uses them when they don’t “have many items”.

“Reality is that if they employed more cashiers the prices would be even higher. Can’t have it both ways,” they added.

On the other side of the spectrum, a vocal contingent of the over 60s emphasises the importance of the human touch in shopping. They reminisce about the days when transactions were conducted with a friendly cashier.

These individuals argue that self-service checkouts lack the personal connection that makes shopping more than just a transaction. The human touch, they claim, is an essential aspect of the shopping experience that should not be sacrificed for the sake of efficiency.

“I’ll wait in line thanks,” one person exclaimed.

“I’d prefer to wait for a cashier,” another added.

One Starts at 60 reader mused that “the stores make huge profits, so why should we do their work?”

“I like to see the young ones on checkouts, earning and learning people skills,” they added.

Another extolled the values of “human contact” during their weekly supermarket visits.

“I don’t like them. Maybe it costs more to have staff in the long run, but people need work and many enjoy the human contact,” they said.

While one person who has worked in retail previously spoke of their enjoyment at being “greeted by a person” rather than a machine.

“Worked in retail all my life! Last thing you need is to go the shop and serve yourself! Love to be greeted by a person!” they said.

As the debate rages on, it seems the battle between self-service checkouts and the human touch may come down to personal preference.

Whether you’re a fan of the swift autonomy these machines offer, singing praises for efficiency and shorter queues, or if you’re in the camp that values the personal connection of a friendly cashier, reminiscing about the days of transactions with a smile, the diverse perspectives within our Starts at 60 community showcase that, in the end, the choice might just depend on what feels right for you in the ever-changing shopping experience.

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