By Bettina Makalintal
Source: Eater

There are many reasons to be skeptical about the continued rise of self-checkout, primarily the loss of jobs as stores cut cashiers (the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10 percent decline from 2021 to 2031). But a new report in the Los Angeles Times offers another one: that the US is in the middle of a loneliness and isolation epidemic, and self-checkout kiosks only worsen the situation.

Citing a May advisory from the US Surgeon General, which found that social isolation nationwide has been increasing for the past two decades, the Times depicts the value of “warm, low-stakes” relationships like that between shopper and cashier, especially for older people. According to University of Michigan professor Toni Antonucci, these kinds of connections are “a critical tool for maintaining emotional well-being later in life as social circles shrink.” As Sharon Hechler, cashier at Albertsons, told the paper, “We all need that human, personal touch.”

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