Money & Banking

"It’s not far off": Woolies forecasts big checkout change

"It’s not far off": Woolies forecasts big checkout change

Since their introduction self-serve checkouts have divided shoppers but if you think they’re going away, we’re sorry to tell you they’re here to stay.

Supermarket giant Woolworths has even hinted at a change that could go a lot further. With fewer people paying with cash, particularly at their inner-city stores, the number of self-serve checkouts accepting cash has reduced dramatically.

Although there are no plans to remove registers that accept cash, senior Woolies executive Steve Greentree told news.com.au  the supermarket’s customers are increasingly “ambivalent to cash” and the day won’t be “far off” when Woolies opens a cash-free supermarket where you can only pay by card or through your phone.

Greentree, who is Woolworths’ Metro division managing director, told the publication: “In all of our city locations, people are just ambivalent to cash now. They just don’t use it so here (at Metro Pitt St) we have three registers that take cash and that’s it; every other self-service is card only, so it’s tap and go or Apple pay.”

The upsides for the supermarkets to go cash-free include fitting more registers in stores. Cashless tills were also safer as they aren’t targeted to thieves. And they’re less prone to breaking down.

“They’re just much more efficient,” Greentree said.

A Woolworths spokeswoman said there were no plans to go cashless in stores and Greentree’s comments referred to Woolies’ new smaller stores and not the traditional larger supermarkets.

But Greentree said he could see a day when Woolies had a fully cashless store: “I don’t think it’s too far off. We’ll probably always have one or two (manned checkouts) but with each store we’re taking another (cash) machine out.”

He added that it is a requirement by law that tobacco is sold by a staff member, so that register would likely be the last cash till standing.