Midwestern grocery chain Jewel-Osco is scrapping its self-checkout lanes in at least some stores, according to the Associated Press.
The move, which has already removed the lanes from some stores in the Chicago suburbs, is part of the ongoing consolidation of grocers that were part of the mix when the Albertsons chain was finally reunited earlier this year by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. Since then, loyalty programs have been ended at several grocers Cerberus acquired at the same time.
In mid-2011, Cerberus removed self-checkout lanes at the Albertsons stores it controlled at the time. Since it acquired the rest of Albertsons, it hasn't removed self-checkout from the stores that still have it, which Cerberus acquired from Supervalu (NYSE:SVU). But stripping the lanes out of Jewel-Osco stores, which Cerberus got as part of the Supervalu deal, suggests the Albertsons versions may be on the way out too.
Jewel spokeswoman Allison Sperling told the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper that first reported the story, that problems with customers cheating the self-checkout kiosks was part of the reason for removing them, but the main impetus was to improve customer service. "We have set a higher bar for customer service in our stores this year, and we feel that letting a customer come in, shop and leave without any opportunity for that last interaction at the checkstand isn't reflective of the culture we're establishing," Sperling said.
The 170-store chain will continue removing the self-checkouts over the next year, and plans to hire more cashiers and add shorter express lanes to replace them.
Albertsons All But Kills Its Loyalty Program
Albertsons Finally Merging Its Websites And Social Media
Reassembling Albertsons: It Won't Be Easy, But It Has To Be Fast