While it seems like the self-checkout in the big box stores has become more and more "popular" as of late, are stores in Colorado beginning to phase them out again?

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Self-Checkout Experiment In Colorado Failed?


You've probably seen the memes about waiting on your W2s from your job as a checkout person at Walmart, Target, King Soopers, etc. There was even a virtual Christmas Party for "Walmart Self-Checkout employees" back in December. Bottom line is that self-checkout has become a huge joke.

Introduced back in the 1980s to help combat labor costs, the self-checkout model in 2024 has gotten so out of hand that people are refusing to use it. In some stores, that's downright impossible because, at some hours of the day that's literally the only checkout option.

I was in Florida in October and popped by the local Walmart to find that it was almost exclusively selt-checkout, with only 2 or three normal check stands even available. It truly felt like we were on the verge of 100% self-checkout, but that doesn't seem to be the case any longer.

Walmart And Target In Colorado Doing Away With Self-Checkout?

Big Rob TSM
Big Rob TSM

While shopping in Longmont over the weekend I noticed that the majority of the self-checkout stands were closed, and nearly 10 staffed checkout lines were open. I cannot remember a time in the last couple of years that I've seen that many live checkers at the same time. Target was the same way. Instead of having self-checkout on both ends of the store, they were only using one.

While nothing was confirmed as a permanent change by either Walmart or Target, Target has notably changed its self-checkout limit to 10 items or less. Dollar General however is one store that has confirmed its plans to use self-checkout less and less.

Dollar General Removing Self-Checkout Stands

TSM/Dave Jensen

At the end of last year, Dollar General's CEO, Todd Vasos, confirmed that they would slowly be removing self-checkout machines from their stores as he felt his company was using and relying on them entirely too much. I'd agree with him there because I'm not even sure anyone even works at the Firestone location. All we've ever used is self-checkout, and don't recall ever seeing an employee up front to help at all. Ever.

Although overdoing it and wanting to get back to that in-person customer-engaging service model is a part of the reason, the rise in theft is the other. It's become way too easy for people to swap price tags or just "forget" to scan items altogether. An increase in theft likely costs more than just staffing people to ring the stuff up right to begin with.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Costco seems to be sticking with its current self-checkout plan but has added more support staff to better prevent shoplifting, as well as people sharing their Costco accounts. Seems like they could just use these additional staffers to run actual check stands, but per usual, nobody asked us.

How do you feel about self-checkout being phased back out? I for one don't care one way or the other. I talk so much for a living, one less awkward conversation is fine with me! Guess we'll see how this progresses as 2024 rolls on.

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