(Self Checkout Lanes At Ralph’s On Sunrise In Palm Springs)
Palm Springs, CA
Visiting Ralph’s on Sunrise in Palm Springs in the past few months, one can’t help but notice all of the newer self checkout registers with less actual human workers checking out customers.
In fact, on a visit this past week, I counted a total of seventeen (17) self checkout registers with just one (1) grocery store worker checking out customers. Call me old fashioned or lazy but, as a full time working person, the last thing I want to do when going to the grocery store is to do all of the work for a multi billion dollar corporation while partaking in the systematic elimination and income of hundreds of thousands of checkout jobs across the state. I do not think this is a good path for corporate America to go on and I don’t think I’m alone in this thought.
When asked why they were the only person checking out customer’s groceries, the Ralph’s checkout worker told me they did not agree with the amount of new self checkout machines either, that it is a corporate decision not theirs, and that their union, the UFCW is fighting it. There are times I’ve seen a total of three cashiers working so maybe there is hope.
Yes, we all know that new technologies change industries, we’ve seen this before and we’ll see it again. Certainly Ralph’s isn’t the only store experimenting with self checkouts across the Golden State. Stores like Walmart, CVS, Home Depot, and the Dollar Store all appear to be testing out the limits of what their customer’s will handle in some capacity.
It doesn’t mean however, that government couldn’t come up with common sense regulation around what percentage a store must have workers versus the amount of self checkout machines. Jobs and customer quality of life must be preserved over corporate profits. The Hollywood writers strike was a prime example of putting people over profits and new technologies. In that case, script writing using artificial intelligence was a major sticking point that the Hollywood writers’ defeated. Currently, I have not seen any pending legislation from California elected officials in regulating the use of self checkout machines. Maybe it’s time for that to change.
The development of the increasing implementation and use of self checkout registers comes on the heels of a potential merger between both Ralphs and Albertsons, two of the largest grocery store chains in California which was announced about a year ago.
The potential merger has been touted as a beneficial move for consumers, employees, and communities. and as a way to be more competitive against major players like Walmart and Amazon in the grocery industry. However, many are skeptical that if the two stores merge, there will be less competition in the Golden state, and prices will go up.
Kroger and Albertsons, in a strategic maneuver are set to offload over 400 stores and additional assets for approximately $1.9 billion in a move aimed at making the merger happen. This comes as antitrust regulators scrutinize the union of two of America’s largest grocery chains.