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Walmart tests new self-checkout system in Arkansas store

Walmart hopes the new system will shorten lines and reduce checkout time.
Walmart Quarterly Revenue Surges 8.6 Percent During COVID-19 Pandemic
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 19: Shopping carts sit in the parking lot of a Walmart store on May 19, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Walmart reported a 74% increase in U.S. online sales for the quarter that ended April 30, and a 10% increase in same store sales for the same period as the effects of the coronavirus helped to boost sales.Scott Olson / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Could traditional checkout lanes become a thing of the past at Walmart?

Walmart is testing a new shopping system at a location in Fayetteville, Arkansas, replacing its traditional, in-person checkout lanes with self-checkout kiosks.

Customers can check out their own items, but they can also still have a store employee scan and bag their purchases at these kiosks, if they prefer.

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Could self-checkout kiosks, like this one at a Walmart store in Burbank, Calif., in 2016, become the new norm? Bloomberg via Getty Images

“In our Fayetteville store, we’re redesigning what that front-end checkout looks like, so it will look a little bit different to customers,” Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg told TODAY Style. However, he added, “customers will continue to have all of the same options they’ve always had when it comes to checking out, whether they want to check out with an associate scanning their items and bagging their groceries, or if they want to use a self-checkout.”

Walmart hopes the new system will speed up the checkout process, at a time when many retailers are encouraging social distancing and limiting the number of shoppers in stores, which can result in long lines.

“What we are looking at in this new setup is ... how can we move people through a checkout experience quicker at a Walmart?” Lundberg said. “How can we shorten the lines, how can we move people through and get them onto the rest of their day as quickly as possible?”

So far, the reactions on social media have been mixed. Some people say they are fans of the new system.

“The less ppl I have to deal with the better! Only use self check anyway,” one person commented on a Facebook video from local reporter Joel Ledbetter about the Fayetteville store’s changes. “I think it’s great.”

Others shared concerns about the updated checkout model.

“Just wanted to let you know how much I dislike your new Self Check Only change. I self check on many occasions when I have a few items, But do not want to check myself with a full cart,” one person wrote on the Fayetteville Walmart’s Facebook page. “I will not be back until there is a change.”

“If they want you to self checkout they need to pay me for working for them,” another person commented.

“I hope it don’t work !! They are making it impossible for older people to shop !! I hope it is a BIG flop !!” another person wrote on Facebook.

Lundberg emphasized the Fayetteville store is not a “self-checkout only” store, and reiterated that shoppers will still have the option of having their items checked out by a store associate.

He also addressed some commenters’ concerns that the new checkout model could mean job losses for Walmart cashiers at the Fayetteville location. He said that no employees at the Fayetteville store are losing their jobs because of this change.

“The checkout will look a little different and the job of the cashier may look a little bit different, but it’s still going to be in that store," he said, "and customers are still going to be able to check out however they want to.”