« Canadians not the only ones peeved over 'Buy American' | Main | Collection agencies now chasing the dead »

June 10, 2021

Study: self check-outs pad your wallet, make you thin

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Please understand, I didn’t need an excuse to write about grocery store self-checkouts. I really didn’t.

I’ve long beamed that the devices are completely revolutionary, downright fun and – considering most have an attendant on-hand to help with any human error – incredibly efficient.

So when I stumbled across a new study all but suggesting self-checkouts can do no wrong, I scoured over the story with the smile of a proud father. To paraphrase Vince Vaughn in Swingers, my little baby’s all growns-up!

Apparently, self-checkouts at grocery stores can be attributed for money-saving and weight loss by significantly cutting down on the impulse purchases that rack up while customers wait for a traditional cashier.

No, seriously. The study, conducted by retail consulting firm IHL Group, found that impulse purchases dropped by 32.1% among women and 16.7% among men when the self-checkout was utilized.

And those numbers – according to the study – will translate to less money spent and the prospect of losing 3-4 pounds each year by resisting purchases when waiting in line.

Regardless of how IHL Group arrived at those numbers, it’s beside the point. It isn’t rocket science to suggest that the less time you’re in a grocery store, the less likely you are to spend money. I haven’t just blown you away.

So it’s with a little scratch of my head that I wonder why self-checkouts aren’t used a little bit more. I have never – not once – waited in line to use a self-checkout, and that includes during peak hours. Yet I always look over to see each cashier’s lane backed up into a nearby aisle.

I can understand a little hesitance with self-checkouts when they’re tested out at, say, a Tim Hortons. You’re used to your customer service from the local coffee shop and you want that to stay. I get that.

But with the concern self-checkouts steal jobs from working cashiers aside, I fail to see the downside of grocery stores going to more lanes of the do-it-yourself cash-out.

(Note to Price Chopper: splurge and install a few self-checkouts, please. They’ll pay for themselves in no time. Your cashiers are downright awful. Just trust me on this one.)



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...