Do self-checkouts kill jobs?

The short answer is no. But the long answer is a bit more complicated.

Do self-checkouts kill jobs?

Kailey Dorsett, Staff

Most of us have been at the store with our parents for the weekly/monthly grocery shopping, being sent on a quick “quest” to go and find that cereal brand that your mom has a coupon for, or being scolded for wandering to far away from the cart after being distracted by the enticing cardboard stand for that candy-cookie treat you have never heard of but are now dying to get because the little cartoon cat said so. And while we have all been present through this grand shopping experience, have we ever really learned how the self check-out works? Well this step-by-step guide on Wikipedia says, “In self-checkout systems, the customer is typically required to:

Scan product barcodes where these exist
Weigh products (such as fresh produce) without barcodes and select the variety on a touchscreen display.
Place all scanned items into a “bagging area”. The weight observed in the bagging area is verified against previously stored information to ensure that the correct item is bagged, allowing the customer to proceed only if the observed and expected weights match.“

Does this system affect employees?
Employees and research seem to indicate that the answer is no. According to an article from, posted in May of this year, the number of cashiers in the United States has actually risen precipitously over the past decade. Another article states the same thing, from in 2017, that self-checkouts do not result in lower staff numbers, nor do they provide a faster checkout as both self-checkouts and assisted checkouts get people through at about the same speed.
If they don’t affect the employee’s jobs, what might they affect? Many studies have shown an increase in theft through self-checkouts: this affects many companies who have to either try and catch the thieves or accept their losses and try to recover from the setback. Some self-checkouts are also confusing to use and, this can cause customers to require more assistance which can take up some of the employee’s time if they have something else they have to get done.
Why should we care? If you see yourself working somewhere that has self-checkouts in the future or even if you plan to start a company that involves a form of physical self-checkout, you’ll know that you and your employees shouldn’t have to worry about losing their job as a cashier to machines, like retail workers, doctors, and even receptionists. You’ll also know to keep an eye out for thieves and confused customers and eventually learn how to act accordingly.