Self-checkout machines could make Americans even lonelier

Maybe they are looking for friends.

While many Americans have grown accustomed to using headphones to scan their purchases, the practice may be contributing to the loneliness epidemic.

Self-service checkouts account for nearly 40% of checkout lines in US grocery chains. according to Catalina Marketing.

And more than 4 in 5 (84%) Americans say they enjoy using self-service kiosks in stores, with 66% saying they would prefer a self-service checkout to paying with a human cashier, according to a recent survey by PlayUSA, an online gaming websitefound.

Toni Antonucci, Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, explains the Los Angeles Times This week we found that “weak bonds” — described as warm, low-stakes relationships, like those between cashiers and regular customers — are a crucial tool in maintaining emotional well-being, especially later in life when social circles are shrinking.

Shoppers use self-checkouts
66% of Americans prefer a self-checkout lane to paying to a human cashier.

“It’s someone who makes you feel important in their world,” she said. “Someone who makes you feel like a human being.”

Nevertheless, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of cashiers nationwide to fall by 10% from 2021 to 2031 – a loss of around 335,000 jobs.

In 2020, Amazon introduced its first Amazon Go grocery store, which relies more on technology than human staff.

The store uses cameras and sensors to recognize the products customers take off the shelves and email them a receipt, allowing shoppers to pay for a bag of groceries without human assistance.

The concept is a larger public version of the Amazon Go store that opened to employees in 2016.

As the world increasingly relies on technology, experts are warning of the harmful effects it can have on people’s physical and mental health.

Customers pay for their groceries at self-service checkouts
Antisocial 14% said they would wait for a self-checkout even if a human cashier was available.

The PlayUSA poll in April found that more than 7 in 10 (71%) of the 1,001 Americans surveyed said human-operated checkouts take longer, while 60% admitted they just don’t want to engage in awkward small talk.

Antisocial 14% said they would wait at a self-checkout even if a human cashier was available.

There was a generational gap: 84% of Gen Z and 76% of Millennials prefer technology over human interaction, compared to just 57% of Gen X and 46% of Baby Boomers.

Young woman with baby pays by self-checkout
Almost 40% of US grocery chain checkouts are self-service checkouts.

While a staggering 89% of people believe technology has made their daily lives easier and 62% believe technology is replacing face-to-face interactions, many admitted that exposure to so much technology has had a negative impact on mental health.

About 67% say technology has made it harder for people to make meaningful connections, 75% believe technology-enabled interactions have led to a decline in social skills, and 68% believe it has led to less empathy.

Caroline Bleakley

Caroline Bleakley is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Caroline Bleakley joined USTimeToday in 2022 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Caroline Bleakley by emailing

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