In my newly renovated supermarket, a change has taken place: Semi-automated cashiers are now everywhere. I don’t mean self-checkouts (there are maybe 5 of these), but cashiers where there is a real human ringing up your purchases, and when done send you off to pay at a machine nearby. It does annoy me, a little at least. I always chat to the cashiers, and I have my favourite lady over at the roast chicken stand too. But now, there is barely any time to talk to the cashiers anymore. Not that they got much human interaction before anyway.
And in the uniqlo I go to in town, they have done the same. And it’s even worse, because there are only two manned cash registers (where they still don’t handle your money anymore, but at least they pack your things for you) and another 10 that are self-checkout. Fun fact is that there are tons and tons of staff everywhere, so it’s not as if they are trying to save money, really, not unless staff with permission to handle money are paid better.
I have to admit that the lines in my supermarket are moving much faster now, obviously. Not just because the cashier can ring up the next customer while you pay, but also because there are four or five machines where you can pay for each cashier. I don’t want to test it, but I guess not even during rush hour in the weekends would you ever have to wait to pay. Efficient, definitely. Humane, not so much.
I wonder where this is going. I do understand that Japan is facing a severe labour shortage and they need to start early to do something against it. But going all the way robotic, I’m not sure… Is this hotel below just the prototype of where we’re heading? And do we really want that?