With Self-Checkout, Impulse Buys at Checkout Drop

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Shoppers spent almost $111 billion at self-checkout lanes in 2005, an increase of 35 percent from the previous year, Franklin, Tennessee-based IHL Consulting Group reported in July. But self-checkout lanes appear to be responsible for a reduction in impulse purchases of items displayed near the checkout lanes. According to IHL's survey of 533 consumers last summer, women's impulse purchases dropped 50 percent when using a self-checkout aisle, compared with a 28 percent decrease for men. Ninety-four percent of respondents to the survey said they would eventually use self-checkouts, even those who responded that they don't like them.

"Many self-checkout lines don't have impulse product racks," IHL President Greg Busek said in an interview with the Boston Patriot Ledger newspaper. "If the impulse item guys working with retailers can create more innovative displays, they can recapture a lot of those sales they're losing." Other self-checkout conclusions from the IHL report include a total self-checkout spending increase to $110.9 billion in 2005 (most industry projections estimate that self-checkout is likely to be worth $1.2 trillion by 2009), and that 18 percent of self-checkout users use self-checkout "all the time" when it is available. (Almost one-third of consumers will only use self-checkout when there is a long line of customers at a traditional staffed lane, the report said.) The average self-checkout transaction is $32.85.

Self-checkout kiosks are generally sold in groups of four at a cost of approximately $80,000. According to NCR Self- Service, it can take retailers 12 to 18 months to recover those costs. Self-checkouts typically replace three employees, whose positions can be eliminated or reassigned elsewhere in stores. Despite the projected cost savings, some major retailers such as Target have resisted replacing cashiers self-checkout.


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