Lifestyle Magazine | Large distribution: towards the end of the cashiers?


A battery of self-service crates, beside which a "cash coach" provides advice to the client: the model spreads like wildfire, threatening a trade born with the boom of mass distribution in the 60s.

"You say hello, you, to the robot?"

"It kills the job!", Rebels Evelyne (the names have been changed), 30 years of cash at Carrefour in Paris. "And then it's not human, you say hello, you, the robot?"

In front of her, Jeanine, 80, approves vigorously. "They have completely redone the shop and sometimes we have only open boxes, you have to go fast, fast, but they think about us, old people?"

On her back, a young woman's ear screwed to the mobile phone resolutely takes the direction of the automatic boxes, passes two melons to the scanner and pays without even hanging up.

"It has become commonplace, half of the stores are equipped with automatic boxes," says Daniel Ducrocq, a specialist in distribution at Nielsen. The firm estimates that 10% of the turnover of supermarkets passes through automatic cash registers.

A demonstration at the Angers hypermarket

They are found massively in local supermarkets where the urban customer seeks "troubleshooting" at any time.

Because the automated boxes can open cheaply evening or night, or to bypass the law prohibiting supermarkets to employ employees on Sunday after 13 hours.

Last Sunday, in Angers, some 200 protesters protested against the opening in the afternoon of a Casino hypermarket equipped only with automatic cash registers. A first for a hyper, but a practice established "without difficulty" in 82 supermarkets Casino, the group.

The number of cashiers decreased from 5 to 10%

However, the automation of the collection systems irreversibly leads to a decrease in the number of cashiers: over the last ten years, the number of cashiers has decreased by 5 to 10%, with 150,000 full-time equivalent jobs today, according to Federation of Commerce and Distribution (FCD).

Added to this is the hypermarket crisis: "It's the circuit that is doing worse, and the one that employs the most cashiers", observes Daniel Ducrocq.

Melissa, a cashier at Monoprix, assures that the automatic cash-boxes have resulted in "fewer hours of work for us, and there are not more salespeople on the shelves." It kills the job, the people who use them for to go faster do not realize ".

The transformation of the job of cashier seems inevitable, posing a training challenge: it is one of the last trades accessible without experience or qualification.

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