Seems like they ought to have self-checkout.

So said a female shopper behind me while in a local department store checkout line when I was doing some recent holiday shopping.

To be honest, that concept hadn’t crossed my mind, but the option certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by retailers beyond the grocery sector.

CNN Business last week reported that self-checkouts, “loved by some and hated by others,” have entered discount clothing and department stores.

Kohl’s is testing self-checkout stations in a few stores. H&M added them to three locations, with plans to roll the program out to more than 30 stores by the end of next year, an article on the media company’s website said.

CNN and other online articles and blogs say retailers are open to self-checkouts because of the labor-cost savings compared to when additional employees may be needed to ring up items for customers. Another potential benefit would be reducing close contact with others – an aspect that became more prized in the pandemic era that made social distancing popular.

Stax, a business technology platform, cites a 2021 Forbes report based on customer experiences that said 85% of respondents found self-checkouts faster than traditional ones.

But there are also downsides that reports and blogs outline. Those include increased risk of theft and credit card fraud, the high cost of initial investment and risk of low customer adoption – especially among older shoppers.

“Some may even prefer having human interaction, even if it means a slower checkout,” according to a blog, written to instruct retailers how they can implement self-checkouts.

Years ago, I admit being a bit resistant when Walmart expanded self-checkouts. After I spent the time walking the aisles and loading my cart – though my grocery list is light compared to some households – someone else should pack my bags.

I don’t like the idea of technology eliminating jobs but can understand repositioning the type of work required and where employees can be deployed and still earn a living.

Self-checkout, whether shopping at Walmart, Meijer or Kroger, is my go-to now. I can bag items I prefer to have together; I can double-bag what needs to be bagged – the heavier and breakable items.

For department stores, I can see some advantages of self-checkout. I’d probably only scoff if it made it harder for me to reap the benefits of rewards and coupons, sometimes even combining them, and keeping a few extra dollars in my account.

Managing Editor

Managing Editor Lisa Green has more than 35 years of experience at newspapers in Illinois and Indiana. She has worked at The Journal Gazette since 2000, initially as business editor. She has a biweekly leadership column/blog called "Lead On."