Unexpected item in the bagging area for corner shops
POPPING into the corner shop for a pint of milk and a chat with the shopkeeper has for years formed an integral part of people’s daily routines.
But the rise of payments technology could soon make it a thing of the past, a report warned yesterday.
According to the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), which represents corner shops, thousands are starting to sack staff and replace their traditional personal contact with self-service checkouts. Shopkeepers are blaming the move on their increasing overheads, which are forcing them to replace staff with automatic till systems, they say.
Industry figures for March to May show one in five convenience retailers invested in upgrading their stores, with a total of £40million spent. One in four stores that made such investments have made improvements to till systems with one in five cutting staff hours, according to research carried out by ACS. The decision to cut staff hours coincides with the living wage increasing to £7.50 an hour in April. It also follows the lead set by supermarket chains, where self-service tills are now commonplace and there is often no necessity to speak to another human being during a shopping trip.
It comes after a Daily Telegraph report revealed last week that Visa is planning to strike cashless agreements with shops and restaurants that will see them offered lump sums worth thousands of pounds and free contactless technology upgrades. In return they must agree to ban customers from paying with cash and ensure that items are bought using a debit or credit card or digital payment like Apple Pay.
But consumer groups warned Visa’s war on cash threatened to disadvantage elderly and vulnerable consumers who still rely on cash and cheques.
It is also thought that self-service tills could negatively impact the lives of elderly and lonely people, as it would deprive them of what may be the only human interaction they get all day.
James Lowman, the ACS chief executive, said: “Many retailers now have to strike a difficult balance between using technology in their business to make their stores more efficient, and retaining the personal touch that the sector has been traditionally known for.
“These decisions will have to be made on an individual basis across stores, but with employment costs continuing to rise we expect more stores to look for efficiencies like these in the near future.”