Walmart recently announced they are testing the concept of all self-check-out lanes at several locations in the United States and Canada. I assume if all goes well, that means the company will start moving to make the concept permanent at all their locations including those here in Indiana and Kentucky.

The idea isn't new for the company. Nearly a year ago, in June 2020, they announced they would be converting one of their Fayetteville, Arkansas Supercenters to the all-self-check-out concept. To my knowledge, the concept is still being used at that location to this day.

Man vs. Self-Check-Out

When self-check-outs first started popping up at our local Walmart locations in the Evansville area, I was not a fan. I felt like it took me longer to check out as I had to search each product in my cart for the barcode so I could scan it. Meanwhile, the cashiers seemed to know exactly where the code was on everything and could zip right through with few interruptions. It also seemed like in the rare instances I did give self-check-out a try, something wouldn't scan, or the scale decided not to work right, and the light above would turn red followed by the dreaded, "please wait for assistance" message on the monitor. This left me standing there helpless like a baby who just filled its diaper and has to wait on someone else to take care of it while everyone behind me in line gives me the death stare.

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Despite those incidents, I would re-visit the self-check-out if I only had an item or two, never with a full cart. But as time went on, and the number of times I had to look at the people waiting in line behind me with an awkward smile on my face and apologize for something that wasn't my fault became less and less, I started getting more comfortable with the self-check-out lane and now use it exclusively at any store that offers it, not just Walmart. I don't even bother looking for a lane with a cashier, even if all the self-check-outs are in use. I do like I did when self-check-out wasn't an option, I look for the lane with the least amount of people and wait until it's my turn. And while I'm still not as quick as the cashiers, it doesn't take me too long to get through a cart full of groceries. Plus, I don't have to make awkward small talk with a stranger (Bonus!).

I Came to Shop Not Work

I'll admit when the relationship between me and the self-check-out was strained at best, part of me did feel like I was doing someone else's job for free while also paying the company for the products I was buying. It's a point some people in Canada have brought up as Walmart tests the concept. But, as sociologist Craig Lambert pointed out in talking with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, there was a time people pumped our gas for us too. I don't hear anyone yearning for those days anymore.

Taking Jobs

Because we live in a world where everyone can voice their opinion on a variety of platforms, it was inevitable when Walmart announced the conversion of the Fayetteville location, many saw it as corporate America screwing the little guy in order to cut costs and maximize profits. Have they been to Walmart lately? There are probably 20 old-school cashier lanes in between the self-check-out versions and on a good day, three of them are open. It's hard to take away a job that doesn't exist in the first place.

In response to those accusations, Walmart said those employees who did work as cashiers would become "hosts" at the self check out stations, there to help show customers how the system works and to help when there's an issue.

Think of it this way, if this becomes the next step in shopping, those four to five employees could serve as hosts for three to four of the self-check-out lanes each instead of one of them trying to keep an eye on 10.

I imagine it sounds like I'm a corporate shill for Walmart, but I promise that's not my intent, believe it or not. All I'm saying is that even though it took a while, I came around to the self-check-out concept, and if Walmart wants to convert all their locations to the idea, I'm "here for it", as the kids say.

[Sources: CBC / Walmart]

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