People abandon £486m at self-scan machines per year

Over 486 Million Pound's worth of products are abandoned in the bagging area of self-scan machines every year. Half of people say they abandon the stuff they'd intended to buy because "it wouldn't scan and I got frustrated.

A new study from vouchercloud has found that the majority of Britons don’t like self-scan machines, with 34% of people saying they abandon three items a month at the machines. According to the research, supermarkets lose roughly £40,503,277.62 per month in abandoned sales because of the machines (and customers inability to use them).

486 Million pounds worth of unexpected items in bagging area.

Despite the name "self-service checkout", 27% of people say they regularly have to get assistance from staff, because they're so incompetent with the machines' "scan the the item, put item in bagging area" system.

Over a third of participants in the poll said they tended to abandon a couple of items they wanted to purchase. These are items they had picked up in the shop with the intention of buying, put in their trolleys and wheeled over to the self-scan machines, only to decide "ah f**k it" when they got to the self-scan machines, and found that the item wouldn't scan properly. This problem is apparently costing supermarkets in the UK £486m in abandoned sales per year.

Just 8% of people displayed any level of competence with the machines, saying they'd "never had any problems or issues with self-scan."

Obviously the main complaint of any customers is the message "unexpected item in bagging area" when there isn't anything in there, or the classic "place item in bagging area" when it's already in the motherf---ing bagging area.

Why did you abandon the things you wanted?

The shoppers who abandoned items once they hit the self-service machines were asked why they had done so. Over half of people had abandoned items because the item wouldn't scan and they got frustrated.

Top reasons for abandoning stuff

5) The item didn’t fit into my carrier bag(s) - 23%

4) I decided I no longer needed the item - 49%

3) It wouldn’t scan on the system and I got frustrated - 55%

2) I couldn’t get assistance from staff -62%

1) The queues were too long/too slow and I didn’t want to wait – 64%

The phrase "unexpected item in bagging area" is now so commonplace, barely a day goes by you don't hear the romantic phrase "you're the unexpected item in my bagging area" from a loved one or sexual partner.

"I'll never use them again"

38% of people said they came away from machines muttering "I’ll never use them again" but then end up using the machines again.

Just 16% of people said they sought out self-service machines rather than manned checkouts. (The same number of people that are looking forward to the singularity - the beginning of the time when machines take over and enslave humanity).

The maths

Vouchercloud said:

"The average shopper abandoned £2.34's worth of items every month, spread out over three items.

With the Office of National Statistics* stating there are currently 50,909,098 Britons aged 18 and over in the UK,that equates to17,309,093 Britons who find themselves regularly abandoning purchases at self-scan. With the average cost per Briton totalling £2.34per month, that’s £40,503,277.62 in sales abandoned in supermarkets per month – or £486,039,331.44 per year in abandoned purchases and supermarket lost sales."

Chris Johnson, Head of Operations at, commented:

“We’re shocked at how much supermarkets are losing on an annual basis - £486b [sic] is an immense amount of money. Yes, £2 here and there doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but add that up and what you have is a fortune that supermarkets are losing out on."

A self scan machine has been reached out to for comment, and made several bleeping noises before telling us to seek a member of staff for assistance.

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