Walmart tests a cashierless store to prevent coronavirus spread

The company hopes this will accelerate checkout times, too.
Marc DeAngelis
M. DeAngelis|06.17.20

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 19: Customers wait in line to enter a Walmart store on May 19, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Walmart reported a 74% increase in U.S. online sales for the quarter that ended April 30, and a 10% increase in same store sales for the same period as the effects of the coronavirus helped to boost sales. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson via Getty Images

Walmart -- which is America’s biggest source of employment -- is cutting cashiers from one of its stores. The company’s Fayetteville, Arkansas location is removing not just its clerks, but also its checkout line conveyor belts, according to a local Fox affiliate. Walmart says that this is a strategy to limit human interaction, but could also help customers pay and leave the store faster. If all goes well, the company could expand the concept to more locations.

While it’s ideal to limit human contact during the coronavirus pandemic, large retailers have been hoping to reduce or remove their cashiers for years. Whether this move is truly done in the name of public safety -- or if it’s a way to cut costs -- isn’t clear.

In March, Walmart integrated a touch-free payment system to help curb human contact. Similar to Apple Pay, customers can add credit cards or gift cards to the Walmart app and then hold their phone near a wireless receiver at the checkout kiosk.

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Hopefully this test shows clear results. All 50 states are reopening in one form or another, despite steady -- or spiking -- cases of COVID-19 infections. A way forward for retail still seems foggy to say the least.

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