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ShopRite Brings Back Full-Service Checkout After Self-Checkout Plan Backfires

Stores in Delaware reintroduce a full staff of cashiers after criticism from customers
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Sparta N.J. ShopRite
ShopRite stores in Delaware are returning to full-service checkout with cashiers in response to customer feedback.

ShopRite is adding back designated full-service checkout lanes to its Delaware stores after facing customer backlash over its self-checkout approachThe Wakefern banner sent mailers over the weekend to customers, saying, "You asked. We listened."

The supermarket chain started replacing traditional checkout lines in Delaware with long self-checkout kiosks at the end of 2021. At the time, ShopRite introduced the new technology due to customer demand with a goal "to provide the best possible checkout experience," as reported by the Delaware News Journal. 

[Read more: "PHOTO GALLERY: ShopRite of Drexeline Opens in Philadelphia Area"]

The self-checkout lanes looked similar to the regular lines, but had a computer on the same side as customers entered so they could scan their own items. However, the self-checkout lines quickly drew criticism from regular customers who preferred an employee manage the checkout. ShopRite did have some employees man checkout lines for customers who prefer a cashier, but the bulk of the lanes were dedicated to self-checkout. Customers felt more cashiers were needed for help during the checkout process.

"We added back designated full-service checkout lanes to stores," spokesperson Karen O'Shea wrote in a statement to the Delaware News Journal. "We always had full-service options but increased self-checkout/fast lanes at our six stores during the pandemic. With labor shortages beginning to ease now, we are adding back full-service lanes and offering a more hybrid self-checkout/full-service experience for customers. We are always evolving, adapting and listening to our customers so that we can provide the best possible shopping experience."

After ShopRite announced that the cashiers would be fully staffed, the U.S. Sun reported Delaware customers poured out their thanks on social media and said they would be coming back to the banner after a long hiatus due to the self-checkout debacle.

Elsewhere in the country, Kroger removed all its traditional checkout lanes in the Nashville area of Tennessee in favor of self-checkouts, while Dollar General is testing out checkout-free operations in North Carolina.

However, some states are pushing back against automating the front-end of supermarkets. Earlier this year, Rhode Island introduced new legislation that limits the number of self-checkouts in the state’s grocery stores. Under the proposed bill, grocers would not be allowed to have more than eight self-service checkout stations operating at any one time per location. Among other measures, the proposed legislation would require grocers give customers a 10% discount for checking out their own groceries.

Meanwhile, Sparkle Markets, a locally-owned and operated chain that runs 19 stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, is steadfast in its commitment to the traditional checkout experience. The retailer’s President Vincent Furrie, Jr. indicated it will not add self-checkout, saying, “Employing our neighbors not only benefits the company, but it also benefits our communities. In times like this, jobs are more important than ever. We value the person at the register  we hope you do as well. Helping one another just cannot be replaced.”

Other grocers are rethinking their self-checkout strategy due to shrinkage concerns surrounding the increase in retail theft.  

Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern comprises nearly 50 members that independently own and operate 360-plus supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Together with its member companies, Wakefern employs nearly 80,000 people. The company is No. 29 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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