Does Geography Influence Self-Checkout Sentiments?

Under the heading of "be careful what conclusions you draw," was chatting the other day with Greg Buzek, president of the IHL consulting group and one of the smartest retail observers working today, about self-checkout trends. Had written recently about IHL's self-checkout report and had questioned the Greg's suggestion that consumers love self-checkout.

Greg mentioned that beyond retail segment breakdown (grocery versus home supply, for example), a critical self-checkout area to consider is geography.

"The results show us that in the Mid-Atlantic to northeast regions, people tend not to like self-checkout as much as Midwest and South where people like it a lot. The West doesn't have enough in grocery to make a wise assessment because the union is so strong in grocery but love it in home improvement," he said. "A big problem that they have in the East and Northeast is that the stores are so crowded that many of the benefits of self-checkout in the South and Midwest are not there. Essentially, the lack of line in self-checkout is a big feature point since more lanes are open. In the Mid-Atlantic and northeast, the stores are too crowded to get that benefit."

Excellent points. It's not so simple to say that consumers?or even employees?feel one way about self-checkout. It depends on location, type of store and even the demographics. A particular store's breakdown in age, income level and gender?plus urban vs. suburban and rural?can have a huge impact, so be careful what conclusions you draw from a self-checkout launch's success or failure.