French supermarket open stores without till staff

Supermarket giant Casino has quietly revolutionised shopping by opening around 200 of its stores with automatic tills and no checkout staff for large periods of the day.

28 August 2019
By Ken Seaton

It sidesteps seven-day working and Sunday opening laws, but has seen only generally limited opposition – and then only when a hypermarket opened unstaffed in Angers on Sunday afternoons for the first time at the end of August.

Hundreds of protesters gathered inside and outside the store, while 10 police officers were on hand to help control queues at the checkouts.

But, on the whole, the company’s move has caused little outcry in a country known for fiercely defending the status quo.

Using a combination of electronic self- scanning tills, smartphone apps, a few external supervisors and agency security staff, the company now offers 7/7 opening – often from 06.00-23.00 – across France.

Casino group, which includes Monoprix, Géant Casino, Leader Price, Franprix, Spar and Vival, said the move was to meet increased customer demand in summer and no jobs would be affected.

It has had severe financial problems, with a debt of nearly €3billion forcing it to close or sell more than 60 of its stores this year.

It told Connexion it had one hypermarket, 82 Casino supermarkets and three Leader Price stores offering extended opening without checkout staff.

It also has three Franprix shops open 24/24 at weekends and 62 with longer opening.

Key high street store Monoprix is also affected, with 51 opening without caissiers from 13.00-21.00 on Sundays.

It has 200 stores open now but chief executive Jean-Charles Naouri told Capital magazine he wants to open 500 in the future.

Laurence Gilardo, of the Casino section of the union Force Ouvrière, explained part of the muted union reaction, saying they opposed Sunday working and if this allowed staff to have family time it was not an issue.

However, she added: “If we look further ahead, we run the risk that customers will get used to the self-service system and our jobs will disappear.”

In Angers, the mayor said unstaffed checkouts were an, “economic and social nonsense” and said a “dehumanised society has no future”.

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