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    Booths axes self-checkouts

    In what seems like a U-turn, supermarket chain Booths is axing almost all self-service tills in its stores in response to customer demand.

    All but two of the 28 stores run by the company, which trades in northern England, will have staffed checkouts. The exceptions are Keswick and Windermere, two of its Cumbria shops.

    Booths, which is considered a high-end supermarket chain, is believed to be the first UK supermarket to move away from using self-service tills, which have become increasingly common in recent years.

    “We believe colleagues serving customers delivers a better customer experience and therefore we have taken the decision to remove self-checkouts in the majority of our stores,” the company said.

    “Our customers have told us this over time, that the self-scan machines that we’ve got in our stores they can be slow, they can be unreliable, they’re obviously impersonal,” Booths managing director Nigel Murray told BBC Radio Lancashire.

    “We stock quite a lot of loose items – fruit and veg and bakery – and as soon as you go to a self-scan with those you’ve got to get a visual verification on them, and some customers don’t know one different apple versus another for example,” he added.

    “There’s all sorts of fussing about with that and then the minute you put any alcohol in your basket somebody’s got to come and check that you’re of the right age.”

    “We like to talk to people and we’re really proud that we’re moving largely to a place where our customers are served by people, by human beings, so rather than artificial intelligence, we’re going for actual intelligence.”

    Booths has been owned by the same family since the tea dealer Edwin Henry Booth opened its first store in Blackpool in 1847. It has 28 stores across Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire and Yorkshire.

    The two stores where self-service would be kept were the Lake District outlets in Windermere and Kendal, which could get very busy when large numbers of tourists turned up, Murray said.

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