If you have ever shopped in Bed Bath and Beyond, you may recall the line of cashiers and waiting to be called to number ? for checkout.
Visited one yesterday and all but one cashier is gone, in fact the line of checkout counters is gone and all replaced by self-checkout stations.
Jobs gone, money saved for the company – I assume – and the customer does the work. Ah, progress.
I compare such changes with the political pontificating for higher wages, a higher minimum wage and bringing back more manufacturing from China to the US.
Can we have higher wages producing more of our goods without higher prices, inflation and perhaps fewer jobs, at least certain types?
Can we have it all with no consequences?
I love self checkout, it makes the lines at registers with a cashier shorter. Many times at Walmart I get checked out faster the the fools, using self checkout. I will use self checkout when the store gives me a 10% discount. I do use Sam’s Club and Walmart pick up service, where they bring your order out to the car. It supports the employees that fill the orders.
I heard, or read, from several sources, that in the old Soviet Union there were jobs for everyone. Many were make-work menial jobs.
Jerry Brown, however, famously (or infamously) said, we don’t need more jobs, we need more welfare. Agriculture was once over eighty percent of American jobs. It is now closer to two percent.
“While more than two-thirds of the population in poor countries work in agriculture, less than 5% of the population does in rich countries.”
It has been said (I read this in 1984. The year, not the book) that if automatic dialing had not been invented, every woman over the age of eighteen would have to be a telephone operator .
In other words, it couldn’t be done. Should we mourn another job(s) lost?
Jerry Brown, again, a rough quote I can’t relocate; “We don’t need jobs, we need “things”, like food, shelter, services, etc. If they can be produced more abundantly and/or less expensively by automation, “It’s a good thing”.
(Jerry Brown/Martha Stewart)
I say, if automation increases productivity, we should all strive for shorter work weeks and earlier retirement. And more one income, or no “employee” income families.
PS: I detest self checkout in most cases, but love my ATM. Went to access my safe deposit box last week and was immediately and courteously served while several customers used the walk-in or drive through ATMs.
Very good questions . I really hope we can avoid a recession. During the downturn in 2008 , I stopped at Lowe’s one night after work to pick up some items for a home project. The cashier broke into tears and told me she and her husband, both with advanced degrees were making a combined salary of 300k before both were laid off. (different companies). She told me every person on the night shift was a laid off professional with at least a bachelor’s degree. Last time I was there most of the checkout lines were self checkout . Ironically, the lowest priced grocery store I go to in Massachusetts does not have self checkout, but the highest priced store is mostly self checkout. The lowest priced store even takes my groceries to my car and loads them in my trunk! I enjoy talking to the cashiers and baggers, one of whom is my former dentist (retired).
And yes, the lowest priced grocery store provides bags, while the higher priced one either requires you to pay for bags or bring your own.
Ironic because I retired in early 2009. After recovering from cancer surgery I tried to find a part time or/and menial job to supplement my pension. Oblivious to the fact unemployment in my area was over twenty percent. And I have only a BA.
In New Jersey, besides having to check yourself out in more and more places, you must bring your own bags. I find that I am only buying what I can carry now. I also find that I now shop where they are allowed to use bags and avoid where they don’t if I can. Lowes doesn’t have any bags. At Home Depot
you can get paper bags if exceed the number of bags that you brought. Can’t wait until we need to buy some bulky items without their own boxes and not owning bags big enough while shopping at a Target or Walmart. Will this drive me to do even more online sales where robots handle my order and get delivered to my door in a box? After covid’s free money to be non essential the minimum wage in my area now appears to $15 – $18 / hr and nobody wants those jobs. So companies are doing all they can to make them go away. Forget college, kids today better learn a trade that robots can’t do.
In Maine there is a state-wide ban on single use plastic carry out bags. I have no problem with eliminating the bags. I can carry a backpack or cloth bag to the store if I am walking and do not need any heavy items. I also have many bags in my car, We have had a rule in our home for 20 years that you cannot drive to the grocery store, bank, post office, library or convenience store unless you have a good reason (usually medical) All are within a mile of our home. It helps us to be a little more healthy and to stop when we are in the car going to an appointment.
The self checkout stations are a problem with me however. What a loss of jobs for young people. Our grocery stores, (one 1 mile away and one 1/2 mile away) still have cashiers but one of them has self checkout as well. The lines are always longer at the ones with cashiers. I feel the self checkout is ripe for theft. I have watched
people swipe and bag products so fast you cannot tell if it took or not. Perhaps the loss is insignificant compared to the cost of an employee!
Where my son lives, in another state, you cannot see where the cashiers are. They are somewhere out back and transactions are done similar to a drive through.
We travel to Europe occassionally and there, you cannot get cash from a cashier. You MUST use an ATM. Coming to America soon!
Hardly ever use cash anymore. Haven’t been in a bank in years. Don’t miss it at all. Also use self checkout at all times. I am assured of accuracy and a recent study showed that people who use self checkout are less likely to make unnecessary impulse purchases.
DWAYNE – Better learn how to fix robots, lol.