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7 Self-Checkout Secrets Grocery Store Clerks Wish You Knew

Sail through the grocery store self-checkout with these helpful tips from grocery store clerks.

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Want to master the self-checkout? Here’s how

Self-checkout machines reduce the number of cashiers needed in a grocery store, but they still require an attendant to watch over customers. If you’ve ever found yourself being rescued from time to time because you did something the machine didn’t like, then keep on reading to learn how to sail out of the grocery store without having to call over the attendant. They’ll thank you for it. They’ll also thank you for keeping in mind these 13 things cashiers secretly wish you’d stop doing.

grocery bag fruitKotcha K/Shutterstock

Press the “I brought my own bags” button

Reusable bags are a great thing. Please continue to use them when you shop. But be aware of the procedures for using them at the self-checkout. Most machines have an “I brought my own bag” button that you should push before placing them in the bagging area. Otherwise, it thinks you aren’t paying for certain items and an attendant needs to verify that you’re not shoplifting.

couponsKunal Mehta/Shutterstock

Skip the self-checkout if you have coupons

If you have a pile of coupons with you, it may be best to go to the regular checkout aisle since many stores require an attendant to come over and verify your coupons, sometimes even entering them in themselves. This can slow you down and offset any time you’d save by using the self-checkout. Do you know these couponing secrets you can unlock with your phone?

grocery bag foodKucherAV/Shutterstock

Scan in the order you want to bag

If there’s a long line at the self-checkout, some people feel anxious and rush through it. This can cause mistakes which need an attendant’s help. One thing that can help bagging go smoother is to scan items in the same order you would bag them in. So, boxes, cans and other heavy items first. You’ll also want to bag similar items together (like all the frozen foods). Psst: When you’re shopping, fill your cart in bagging groups.

apple sticker fruit1000 Words Images/Shutterstock

Punch in the PLU code

When buying produce, customers typically look up the item by name. But it’s easy to second guess yourself when scrolling through all the different types of apples and tomatoes, especially if you picked up something different from the norm because it was on sale. If you spent extra time hunting for the best deal, it’d be a shame to miss out on it because you entered in the wrong item. It’s much easier to punch in the PLU code. Just enter the 4- or 5-digit code and boom, the machine knows exactly what you’re purchasing.

grocery sef checkoutAS photo studio/Shutterstock

Set items in the bagging area (even if you don’t bag them)

Weight is a very important factor at the self-checkout. Most machines use an item’s weight to determine that what you bought is truly what you said you bought. It’s a way to prevent shoplifting. So, even if you don’t need a bag to carry your chips or soda, it’s still necessary to place it in the bagging area after it’s been scanned. You can use this trick when you shop at one of the top grocery stores in America.

grocery basket listwavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Skip it if you have more than 20 items

Self-checkout is convenient when you’re only buying a few items. The more items you have, the longer it takes, the more likely you’ll make mistakes and the longer the line in back of you will be. If you want a smoother experience at checkout, let the professionals handle your big shopping trips. They’re happy to do so.

couple groceryMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Use your shopping buddy to your advantage

If you’re shopping with your partner or a pal, work as a team to speed up checkout. It usually works well when one person unpacks the items from the cart and the other scans and bags. Just be sure you aren’t getting in each other’s way and bagging foods while someone else scans. That can confuse the machine and, you guessed it, call someone over. Before you get to the checkout, you can use these 10 secret grocery shopping tips you need to know.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home

Emily Racette Parulski
Emily has been an editor for five years, specializing in recipe newsletters. When she’s not writing about food, she’s in the kitchen baking something sweet to feed her chocolate obsession.

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