Main Street without workers

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As labor becomes scarce and expensive, stores are turning to cashier-less checkouts to stay in business.

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Why this matters: Businesses are increasingly faced with the almost unheard-of accident of figuring out how to keep their doors open with fewer – or no – employees.

What is happening: As Nerdshala Courteney Brown and Neil Irwin report, the number of job seekers is not growing very fast. The share of adults in the labor force remains 1.5 percentage points below pre-epidemic levels.

  • And when it comes to in-person service jobs on Main Street, the COVID-19 outbreak can quickly exacerbate a worker shortage.
  • As a result, stores are looking for new ways to address the shortage.

Automation: New technology may replace some of the workers on Main Street. But “once a job is automated, it’s very hard to turn back,” says Casey Warman, an economist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. tells the New York Times About pandemic-era technological changes.

  • Amazon has had success with its cashier-less Go convenience store, and the retail giant is carrying that model as well. full size grocery stores,

Apart from Amazon, There are startups like Standard Cognition that will outfit any small store with an AI-powered checkout.

  • While some of the larger chains put 100 to 200 cameras in ceilings and aisles to make working cashierless, Standard Cognition has a more legible approach to mom-and-pop and does it with just 27, said co-founder Michael Suswal to Nerdshala. telling.
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self service: Seek self-checks to gain popularity as labor shortages persist.

  • Retailers that didn’t offer self-checkout before the pandemic Like Kohl’s and DSW It is adopted as it minimizes the contact as well as the need for workers.
  • What’s Next’s own Joan Muller tells me one of her local grocery stores is completely self-checkout.

Little City Books, A Hoboken, New Jersey, Bookstore, Tried an even more practical model during the pandemic: the honor system.

  • Little City, which opened in downtown Hoboken five years ago, opened its second Uptown location in January 2020, then had to close in March 2020 because of the pandemic, says co-owner Kate Jacobs.
  • “We realized we couldn’t afford the workforce in a city where there is little foot traffic, which is the lifeblood of the bookstore,” she says. “We decided to try a self-service shopping format using Venmo, which is like a roadside product stand.”

If customers see something they want to buy, They check the price, calculate the tax and then pay the store using Venmo.

Photo: Erica Pandey / Nerdshala
  • Little City’s Uptown location will close in February, but that’s not because the self-service approach has failed.
  • “The self-service model was remarkably successful,” Jacobs says. “The space was highly respected by customers and we sold a lot of Venmo. It was a fun trust exercise, not a substantial amount to support the rent.”


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