In a revelation that should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever tried to use one of those self-serve grocery checkout lanes, it has come out that the damn things are, in fact, marginally less efficient than lanes staffed by actual clerks.

A Telegraph investigation using identical baskets of groceries checked out at staffed and self-service lanes found that self-service was slower five out of nine times.

The Telegraph additionally notes an interesting finding regarding overall wait times in stores with ample self-service lanes:

“Figures compiled by The Grocer magazine show that average queuing times for staffed tills at Tesco and Sainsbury’s, the retailers with the most self-service checkouts, have increased over the past two years. At Tesco, which has 6,000 self-service checkouts in its 1,200 stores, the average wait for a staffed till lengthened from 5min 15sec in 2008 to 5min 42sec this year. Sainsbury’s saw a smaller rise, from 5min 30sec to 5min 35sec.”

Although it should be noted that traditional staffed checkout lanes have their share of snafus, things like rejected banknotes, unidentified items, and incorrect identification of various fruits and vegetables make the self-service lanes a veritable minefield of delays.

Here’s a prediction: This won’t be truly sorted out until they’ve got fully articulated, laser-toting, Japanese manga–styled grocery checkout robots. Bring on the ’bots!

Image source: Flickr member Robert Couse-Baker under Creative Commons

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