Booths, a UK supermarket chain renowned for its quality and customer service, is taking a bold step by removing most self-service checkouts from its 27 stores in Northern England. Often hailed as the “northern Waitrose,” Booths is prioritizing human interaction and customer service by reverting to fully-staffed checkouts.

The decision to eliminate self-service tills stems from feedback provided by customers who expressed concerns about the slow, unreliable, and impersonal nature of self-scan machines. In alignment with Booths’ commitment to providing a more personal shopping experience, managing director Nigel Murray emphasized the importance of warm, personal care. This move challenges the prevailing trend of increasing automation in the retail sector.

Booths’ choice has sparked a discussion on the pros and cons of self-service checkouts, particularly in relation to shoplifting. The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) highlights the challenge faced by retailers relying on self-service tills, as theft remains a prevalent issue. This raises questions about the effectiveness of automated systems in deterring theft.

While most Booths stores will return to fully-staffed checkouts, a few exceptions will be made. Two stores in the Lake District, Keswick and Windermere, will still offer self-service tills due to high customer traffic and convenience preferences.

With a history dating back to 1847, Booths emphasizes the enduring value of personal customer service in a retail landscape dominated by convenience and automation. By choosing human cashiers’ “actual intelligence” over artificial intelligence, the supermarket chain places great importance on face-to-face interactions and building customer loyalty.

Booths’ decision challenges the current norm of automated shopping and underscores the significance of real human interactions and customer-centric values. As the retail industry continues to evolve, opting for fully-staffed checkouts demonstrates Booths’ commitment to delivering a shopping experience that goes beyond mere transactions. This emphasizes the lasting appeal of exceptional customer service in an era driven by technology.