Walmart in Campbell River (Photo: Ethan Morneau, staff)
The Walmart Supercentre in Campbell River is rolling back its ‘belted’ checkouts, purging the lanes, opting for more self-checkouts.
Currently, just three belted checkouts remain; however, there’s no word if the move is permanent, or if any jobs were lost.
Back in June, Walmart Canada said it was testing the so-called ‘initiative’ at a handful of stores across the country. The Terrace, B.C. location was first confirmed to be participating, but now it seems the change has moved farther west.
In Terrace specifically, Manager of Corporate Affairs, Felicia Fefer, said local customers are using self-checkouts in high numbers. It’s one of the reasons that store, in particular, was selected as part of the test. She noted that ‘belted’ checkout lanes would be completely removed.
With this in mind, the leader of a provincial union representing grocery and retail workers told My Campbell River Now that she’s concerned technology could potentially take away people’s jobs.
“We don’t oppose technology changing, we oppose technology eroding jobs, preventing people from being able to access hours so that they’re able to pay their bills. So technology needs to work in conjunction with workers maintaining good jobs,” UFCW Local 1518 president Kim Novak said.
While Novak mentioned concerns regarding self-checkouts are nothing new, she hears it voiced now more than ever.
“We see self-checkouts have been evolving and the technology evolving now for many many years,” Novak said. “This is the first time I think it’s really hitting home for people that these stores could run completely without someone working at the cash register.”
But Fefer ensures jobs won’t be impacted as Walmart locations go cashierless. Over the years, she said the retailer has heard concerns that self-checkouts will impact jobs. “That’s simply not the case,” she explained.
Fefer continued, “The self-checkout area will be staffed by dedicated associates to help our customers and there will be no job loss as a result of this change.”
In fact, when the ‘initiative’ was first announced, Fefer said the Walmart in Terrace was actually hiring for more than 40 jobs including roles in omnichannel, as the retail giant launches an online grocery option in the coming months.