Trader Joe’s, which has several locations throughout the District of Columbia, including in the Southeast and Capitol Hill areas, has vowed never to install self-checkout lines.
The hierarchy of the popular grocery store that stocks a variety of signature items and produce said they “value people over machines.”
That stands in contrast to stores like Walmart, Target, and other outlets, which continue to install machines that tend to reduce employment.
“The bottom line here is that our people remain our most valued resource,” Tara Miller, Trader Joe’s vice president of marketing, said on the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast.
“While other retailers were cutting staff and adding things like self-checkout, curbside pickup, and outsourcing delivery options, we were hiring more crew, and we continue to do that,” Miller stated.
“Our crew will be in our stores to help you find your next favorite product, just as they’ve always been.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has said that “selected occupations are often used as examples of technological displacement that is or will become a more general problem” because AI and robots are causing people to worry about losing many jobs.
The BLS predicted a 7.4 percent decline in cashiers by 2029 because of technology like self-checkout machines.
Still, many applauded Trader Joe’s announcement.
Nick Mueller, the director of operations at Hawaiianislands.com, said when self-checkout kiosks first appeared, the intent was to serve individuals with only a few items. Mueller noted that it was a means for someone to get in and out of the store fast because they no longer had to wait in line behind someone with a full shopping cart.
“Now, with more stores installing more self-checkouts, there’s no longer the luxury of a quick in and out,” Mueller lamented. “Trader Joe’s decision to keep self-checkout machines out of their stores should be applauded.”.
“They’re keeping their customers’ experience as efficient and pleasant as possible by employing more staff instead of automating more processes,” Mueller continued.
Troy Portillo, the director of operations for the online tutoring service, StudyPool, called Trader Joe’s bold for standing behind its employees and pledging not to outsource their jobs to machines.
“Especially during a time when so many companies are looking for ways to downsize in this uncertain economy. Standing with their employees is likely going to gain them even more loyal customers than those they already have,” Portillo remarked.
“For a company to stand so firmly on their values is nice to see these days.”
Not everyone views it the same.
Josh Snead, the CEO of Rainwalk Pet Insurance, said while active, engaged, and friendly customer service is part of Trader Joe’s brand, they might be making a mistake by ignoring self-checkout machines.
“They’re incredibly efficient in many ways,” Snead insisted. “They’re an express lane that’s always open, they’re much less expensive than a human cashier, and there are plenty of shy, introverted, or just plain busy people out there who just want to pay for their food and get on with their day rather than share their life story with an overly friendly cashier.”