At the Hornsey Pensioners Action Group 2023 AGM one of our resolutions was that local shops, especially supermarkets, should have manned service tills open throughout the working day.

We understand that many supermarkets have already changed their checkout tills to only self-service and that more will soon do the same. There are many reasons why the elderly will find this very inconvenient.

Unloading the groceries at a self-service checkout means bending down and bagging some heavy products. At a manned checkout it is easier to unload one’s shopping trolley as it is at the same level as the conveyer belt. It is also easier to put your grocery bags into a trolley. Self-service checkouts are far more physically demanding and bending down again to lift a heavy bag off the machine is too difficult for many. For some reason their counters are often 1.5ft lower than manned desks

Ham & High: Ursula Maestranzi says that Hornsey Pensioners Action Group want manned checkoutsUrsula Maestranzi says that Hornsey Pensioners Action Group want manned checkouts (Image: HPAG)

Some elderly people have eyesight problems. Self-service checkouts have a series of instructions for the customer to follow. For those with eyesight problems it is very difficult to read the instructions and successfully complete a purchase.

As an alternative we are encouraged to have our grocery goods delivered. We are encouraged to use the internet. Many elderly can use the internet but do not want to use the internet for shopping. Apart from wanting to chose their own fresh fruit and vegetables and look for bargains, going to the shops is an important social activity, reducing loneliness and encouraging physical activity.

In London there are estimated 200,000 elderly people who cannot use the internet, so faced with any digital machine, such as a self-service checkout, can be off-putting. We know that there are staff around to help. There are many people whose needs are not served by self-service checkouts. Would it not be wiser to have at least one of these customer service staff employed at a manned till?

West Haringey alone has one of the highest number of octogenarians and nonagenarians in London. All members of our community, including the elderly, need a supportive community environment around them. The key to this happening is having shops that meet their physical, digital and social needs.