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Kroger converting some stores to full self-checkout

One Tennessee grocery store only has self-checkouts as an option for customers. Kroger says it's about meeting customer expectations.
Posted at 8:40 AM, Jul 31, 2023

Of the many choices you have to make in a grocery store, the one that probably divides us most is — do you go see a cashier or do you use self-checkout?

But at a Kroger in Franklin, Tennessee, you now officially have no choice but to do it yourself. 

"They took all the checkers out, which I was a little surprised at," said Bob Christiansen, a Kroger shopper. "So it’s a purely self-checkout place now."

Kroger made the change last Friday. A spokesperson says they picked the location because it already had a high rate of self-checkout customers. For Christiansen, self-checkout is an easy option given his pretty empty cart. 

"I’m here, not quite every day, but four or five days a week anyways," he said. "For me, it’s no big deal because I’ve just been using self-checkout anyway."

Easy, that is, until he needs to make a big grocery run. 

"Thanksgiving time or that kind of thing, I’ll probably not come and do that here," said Christiansen.

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Kroger contends this isn't a cost-saving measure and none of the Franklin employees with lose their jobs. 

"No jobs have been eliminated due to this conversion. Some titles have changed but we will continue to have staff at the front of the store," said Lauren Bell, a spokesperson for the grocery store.

Bell claimed Kroger decided to do this merely as a way to meet customer expectations. 

"That will get them in and out of the store, much faster," she said.

Bell also wants to dispel the rumor that all Kroger locations will be moving to this model. Right now in Middle Tennessee, it's just the Franklin store. The Hillsboro Village Kroger will convert to just self-checkout later this year. As for the broader future, Bell wouldn't speculate. 

"I certainly can’t predict the future, and we will always look for ways continue to look for ways to reinvent the checkout process for our customers, but for right now, we will limit this conversion to these two locations," she said.

The Franklin store has made a few adjustments to help shoppers with larger shopping carts. They've added four wider checkout lanes with a conveyor belt, that takes your scanned items down to the bagging area. 

"Customers who have a larger basket size, it’s much more convenient for them to use those lanes," Bell said.

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But Christiansen is worried about everyone else, who may not have much of a choice. 

"If you’ve got a little child or two, you know, you’re going through all these things — I don’t know. Or even some seniors," the longtime Kroger shopper said. "I don’t see a lot of positive in it — that’s just me."

This story was originally published by Chris Davis for Scripps News Nashville.