Why One Independent Grocer Is Sticking With Cashiers

Sparkle Markets cites reasons for not adding self-checkout
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
a woman smiling for the camera
Checkout Clerk
Sparkle Markets is eschewing self checkout, keeping cashiers in place for engagement and service.

While many, if not most, retailers have reconfigured their front end and staffing to accommodate self-checkout areas, one grocer is staying in its lane. 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.

In a recent Facebook post that has garnered attention, the retailer’s President Vincent Furrie, Jr. shared the reasoning behind the decision. “Many big grocery brands, have decided to phase out their cashiers and replace them with self-checkout machines. They believe limiting human interaction is the future of retail shopping,” he wrote. “While stores test this theory, we at Sparkle will not be turning to self-checkout. 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.”

The post received more than 1,300 likes and elicited a slew of positive comments from customers. “Thank you for caring for both your customers and employees,” shared one user. Added another: “I grew up on the Sparkle experience, with experienced cashiers and baggers who took your groceries all the way to your car with their ‘special carts.’ These weren't just jobs, there was pride in service, and I'm still amazed at the long term employees both back then and now. Hats off Vince! Sometimes staying the same is how to be different!”

Although self-checkout has become a way of life for many grocery shoppers, surveys have supported the notion that people appreciate convenience as well as personal engagement. According to data from Catalina’s Shopper Intelligence Platform, consumers like to have both options at checkout, depending on their circumstances. Still, that data shows that while self-checkout accounts for 38% of transactions, it produced 24% of sales and shoppers who only use self-checkout had smaller baskets.  

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