Independent retailers have questioned Tesco's decision to abandon manned checkouts at a new Express store in Northampton.

The store has five self-service tills which are supervised by a single member of staff.

Kevin Jones of Level Stores in Deeside, Flintshire, believes that self-service tills remove the social element that customers enjoy. He said: "A store should be the centre of the community. For some customers, it's more than picking up their groceries they want to interact with the people who work in the store.

"It'll also cause hassle for those wanting to buy alcohol and tobacco as they'll have to call a member of staff over anyway."

Chris Pollard, who runs Barlby Village Stores in Selby, is convinced that many customers will be put off by the lack of human interaction.

"I think that this will cost Tesco a lot of customers," he said. "Elderly people, in particular, won't want to shop there as it will be too intimidating for them to use the machines."

Chris added: "It's fine to give people the option of self-service, but it adds to the atmosphere of a store to have staff who will have a chat or share a joke. Tesco would rather save money than pay staff to do this."

A Tesco spokesman insisted that the removal of checkout staff was to improve customer service rather than to cut down on employees. "This trial is looking at how more self-service check-outs might provide a better service by freeing up staff to be on the shop floor," he said.

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