Supermarket halts self-service tills leaving shoppers divided over change

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Last month Walmart announced new
Last month Walmart announced new 'anti-theft' measures were being taken across stores (Image: Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A Walmart branch has entirely shut down its self-service machines - leaving shoppers divided over the checkout change.

The superstore announced the change on a sign outside the Ottawa branch in Canada, saying it would temporarily be testing a full-service experience. The store added it looked forward to interacting with shoppers on a more one-on-one basis with more workers stationed at the self-chekouts to scan customers' items.

While most shoppers have battled with a self-service machine at least once, the major change to the branch left other customers confused, claiming they were happy with the old system and enjoyed the speed of checking themselves out.

Justin Jituboh told CTV News: "Honestly, I just feel like that's not a really smart move because there's gonna be so many people.Lines are backed up as it is on a normal day, so I feel like they should definitely open up self-checkout."

Supermarket halts self-service tills leaving shoppers divided over change erideuiqtqiqdrinvThe store announced the temporary changes which saw staff scan customers' goods at the checkout (LightRocket via Getty Images)

Another customer claimed the self-checkouts were a chance to shop in peace, with Kateri Trzebiatowski adding: "Some people don't want to have to talk to people in the checkout lines, so that's gonna be a real bummer."

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However others said the self-checkouts were only useful if buying a few items, and usually larger hauls needed to be scanned by a staff member anyway. A spokesperson announced that the test had been completed and that self-checkout was back up and running, but did not confirm the reasoning behind the experiment.

Last month Walmart announced new 'anti-theft' measures were being taken across stores - with some branding them as 'extreme'. Walmart's CEO says that the company is looking to invest in new technology to prevent theft at the self-checkout counter, blaming a rise in thieving for a string of store closures - even though the company posted $149.863B in profits in 2023, a 4.48 per cent increase from the year before.

As individuals take advantage of self-checkout counters to avoid paying for products at a time when the unemployment rates and inflation rates are high, Walmart's leadership is blaming the theft for a string of closed stores across Canada. Walmart's presidents and CEOs are also known for making incredibly high salaries.

Gonzalo Gebara, president of Walmart Canada, says the chain discount store, "with more than two million employees worldwide," is suffering from a "lack of profits, theft and security concerns." Gebara's net worth isn't posted online, but his US counterpart makes about $24million per year.

“Security, in general, is something we pay very close attention to,” Gebara told CTV News. "We're working with all of our resources to make sure that we just improve the general conditions of safety."

Safety, apparently to Gebara, is preventing individuals from petty theft at Walmart. He insists that Walmart is working with RCC (Retail Council of Canada) and other technological companies to create a solution.

Walmart CEO in the US, Doug McMillon, also discussed how large a problem stealing was in the stores last December, while he pulls in a salary that's 933 times what any Walmart employee makes. “Theft is an issue. It’s higher than what it has historically been,” he told CNBC.

Abigail O'Leary

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