Apparently you can't miss what you don't use.
Supermarket chain Big Y announced earlier this month that it plans to phase out the use of self-service checkout lanes across all of its stores. That would apply to 61 locations across Connecticut, including the three local branches in , and .
Though many factors have been cited for the announcement, the chief motivation appears fairly simple: customers weren't using the self service lanes. According to a Huffington Post article, market studies showed that only 16 percent of 2010 supermarket transactions took place at a self service counter.
Local shoppers confirmed that trend.
"I never use them," said Newtown resident Renee Obel, who declined to provide her age. "Maybe some of the younger generation like it. But I imagine the reason they're closing [the lanes] is that probably no one uses them. And I usually like to talk to someone, too."
"It makes no difference to me," said Don Elmer, 79, of Newtown. "I sure don't use them."
The lack of self service lane traffic appears largely attributable to the fact that many customers enjoy interacting with an actual employee instead of a machine, feeling it makes for a better shopping experience and actually cuts down on errors and time.
"I think it's a good idea," said Bob Haig, 78, of Southbury. "I don't think they help save any time, especially on larger orders."
Haig pointed out another benefit of closing the self service counters.
"You know, it might actually create more jobs for people, too," he said, referring to the need to add more cashiers to accommodate the change.
Theft may also have compelled Big Y to make the change, according to a Hartford Courant report, which stated that a significant amount of theft (both intentional and not) occurred in the self service lanes.
Despite the apparently low usage and customer ambivalence, local store managers were tight-lipped about the impending change. Officials from local stores refused to comment on the matter, directing inquiries to their corporate office amid concerns of public backlash stemming from the announcement.
Calls placed to the company's corporate offices over the last two weeks were not returned.
Big Y first instituted the self service lanes in 2003 and is one of a number of national supermarket chains either considering or implementing the lane closures in the near future.