Whether or not it’s your preferred method to shop, self-checkout hubs are increasingly seizing up a greater share of front-end real estate at regional and national grocery chains alike. As previous CivicScience polling has indicated, this doesn’t necessarily reflect the preferences of most grocery shoppers. But how do things stand with grocery buyers in 2023?

According to the latest CivicScience data, the share of U.S. adults who currently prefer human cashiers to self-checkout kiosks has increased a notable amount year-over-year (currently up to 60% from 55% last year). Self-checkout kiosks are currently at their lowest level of support in the past two years, despite their heightened prevalence.

One of the primary barriers to self-checkout adoption has long been machine or human error, which requires a checkout attendant to troubleshoot. Fewer Americans who use self-checkout currently report they encounter errors ‘very often’ (22%) than in last year’s study (24%). Age is also not much of a predictor for who will run into problems, but adults 34 and younger are more likely than older age groups to encounter an issue (with those 55+ being the least likely to face errors ‘very often’ at 19%).

However, those who report errors on a regular basis are overwhelmingly more likely to prefer a human cashier. Even nearly half of those who opt for self-checkout report encountering an issue at least ‘somewhat often’ (49%).

Certain grocery stores may have more to gain from prioritizing self-checkout than others. Take Aldi, one of the more DIY grocery stores for self-sufficient shoppers (bag it yourself, with your own bags – and don’t forget that quarter to unlock the cart), which recently introduced self-checkout at a number of its stores. According to CivicScience’s latest polling data, that might have been a good move, as Aldi outpaces all other grocery stores’ favorables in self-checkout preference.

Among those favorable to most grocery stores CivicScience surveyed, just around 30% prefer self-checkout. Trader Joe’s, which is one of the last remaining self-checkout holdouts, clocks in near the bottom at 26%, and adults who shop at Kroger at least once a month track the furthest under the Gen Pop’s interest in self-checkout (25% compared to 28%).

So while self-checkout services are facing a slight favorability decline, the cashier alternative might not be an equally worthwhile endeavor for all grocers. Interested in the latest grocery industry insights specific to your business? Let’s chat.