To Bag or Not to Bag?

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To Bag or Not to Bag? grocery-bag-800x1024.jpg

What is your store policy when it comes to bagging groceries?  Does the customer bag the groceries, or does an employee?  What if customers strongly prefer to bag their own groceries, but you have an employee who typically handles the bagging? We took a look at different grocers and retailers in the nation to see what they had to say.

For the grocer, it’s clearly less expensive to have the customer bag their own groceries. It saves them paying wages and benefits for multiple employees.  For the grocer, it often comes down to saving money or providing a better experience for the customer.

From the customer’s perspective, camps are divided when there is not a bagger present. Many consumers say that if there isn’t a dedicated bagger and you’re physically able to bag your own goods, then you should. It expedites the transaction to get you home sooner, and can help a cashier get a long line out the door quicker. They also say it’s just common decency. The cashier is working hard to do his job, and instead of standing idly by, the customer could be helping. However, there are plenty of customers who prefer to bag their own groceries, reasoning that they have a certain order they want things to be bagged for optimal distribution of weight, or maybe they like to unpack their groceries in a certain order.

Other consumers argue that stores whose policy makes the customer bag is poor customer service. They believe that having an employee bag groceries is a service that is inclued in the overall price of the grocery order.


In a recent report from Market Force, of the top 15 grocery stores, only 1 did not have baggers or cashiers who served as baggers. Trader Joe’s is the only one who has its customers bag, and it fell from the number one position for the first time in four years. However, with a proposed minimum wage increase to $15, this could change. With customers generally preferring their groceries bagged for them, will stores be able to keep these positions staffed at the new, higher pay? Or will they have to sacrifice customer satisfaction to maintain profit margins?

In the past, 14 of the 15 top retailers, by example, have implied that taking care of the customer and their needs is more important than saving money on their end. Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA, has said “So often baggers or courtesy clerks are the last impression a customer has of a store, and because of this, superior bagging skills, along with friendly customer service, are critical elements to a positive shopping experience for the consumer.”  So what will happen if the baggers are lost? A good solution to preempt future cuts to bagger positions is to install new checkout lanes that make bagging easier for the cashier or the customer alike, which could help soften a blow to satisfaction by losing dedicated baggers.