retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Mike Moon:

I've been thinking recently about the growth of self checkouts. The Walmart and Home Depot in my area have seriously expanded this option in local stores.

I remember when self checkout was first introduced nearly 20 years ago. The investment was extremely expensive, much more than a standard checkout, and as Retailers, we figured that the customers would steal us into bankruptcy. Adaptation was slow.

Fast forward to today. My local Walmart, that used to have 24 lanes of traditional checkouts and what seemed like only 4 cashiers with some very long lines, now has 16 or so self checkout stations, maybe 8 traditional checkouts, and the same 4 cashiers. But guess what?, The lines are gone. There is sometimes a wait for the self checkout station (!), but the long customer lines in my local store have vanished.

I'm curious to know what the data looks like in these stores. Cashier labor has obviously been held steady or possibly reduced, but so has cashier related shrink: cash errors are now 0, cashier theft is 0, cashier related scan errors are 0. I'm sure there is shrink at the self checkouts, and I'm sure there is theft, but I would wager that it is far less than when cashiers handles all the transactions. Do you know if anyone is sharing or has discussed this type of information?

Not off the top of my head. But now we've put the question out there … crowd-sourcing it, if you will.

Regarding Sears' decision to sell off its DieHard brand, MNB reader Jeff Weidauer wrote:

I think you have to be of a certain age to even remember DieHard, much less care about it. The DieHard brand is just one more thing that Sears has neglected and allowed to die easily (sorry). Unfortunately, few will mourn its passing.

And, responding to our story about revised nutrition labeling on packaging, MNB reader Bob McGehee wrote:

Good progress BUT  . . . .

When will the FDA/USDA/CDC/etc. require some consistency in dating of products?  Sell by, eat by, best flavor by, use or freeze by, remove from your house or it will explode by, eat after this date and someone will tell your mother that you’re eating stale stuff.  Wasn’t there an initiative about this a long time ago.  Just wondering.

KC's View: