Heading off to college is all about the new and exciting experiences that students will navigate. Independence is one of those experiences that might be new to incoming students. First entering college comes with a new experience for many: doing your own grocery shopping.
For Slippery Rock University (SRU) students, unless you own a car, your main source for groceries comes from the local, Giant Eagle, located at 223 Grove City Rd. The store offers a wide variety of options, and offers discounts to those who shop with their advantage card. One such savings, fuelperks, offers drivers discounts when re-fueling at a Giant Eagle GetGo.
Something that Giant Eagle does not offer at present time, Self-checkout lanes, which have been closed at Giant Eagle for some time now. With SRU seeing a large incoming class of freshman, The Rocket reached out to Giant Eagle to find out more about the closed self-checkout lanes.
Jeff Galmarini, the owner of the local Giant Eagle, said that the model of self-checkout lanes at Giant Eagle are older and have proven to be much slower than models found at other stores.
Mr. Galmarini made the decision to hire and schedule more staff to work the traditional checkout lanes, rather than replace the older self-checkout models. He reasoned that this offers more opportunity for employment and human interaction, something he feels strongly about, “It is rare when you walk into a store to find all of their registers open.” Galmarini said.
One thing Garlmarini enjoys is the experience and interaction of a traditional checkout lane.
“Sales increase dramatically when students come back, we want to put a focus on the front of service.” Galmarini said. In contrast to the sales and staffing needs of the summer, Mr. Galmarini believes that the staffing of the other five checkout lanes by employees will decrease the amount of wait times shoppers will experience.
At present, there is no plan to reopen the self-checkout lanes, however, Mr. Galmarini did state that should the need arise, the store has the option to utilize the lanes by placing an employee at each lane to scan and bag the groceries for the shoppers. This would allow an employee to be on hand should one of the lanes experience an issue.
The Rocket polled students at SRU to ask about their shopping habits, with 53.1% of respondents indicating that Giant Eagle was their primary grocery store. Students were asked their preference between traditional checkout and self-checkout, with a response of 62.5% indicating that they prefer to scan their own items.
One student indicated that they prefer self-checkout for the speed, less social interaction, especially if they’re not in the mood. Many of the explanations The Rocket received involved the overall speed of the experience.
Some students explained that they prefer traditional lanes due to waiting for older shoppers to scan their items, another student stated they refuse to sign up for a Giant Eagle Advantage Card.
When asked if they’d be more likely to shop at Giant Eagle if the self-checkout lanes were open, 75% of student respondents indicated yes.
Given the large influx of incoming students, The Rocket polled students on the wait times they’ve experienced when shopping at Giant Eagle. Eighty-one percent of students indicated that they have experienced long wait times while attempting to checkout.
One student says that they got lucky getting into a checkout line that was quicker, while others seemed to wait much longer. The student indicated that all five traditional lanes were open the day in question.
These wait times, however, are not necessarily a direct correlation as a result of closed self-checkout lanes. One student respondent indicated that training during a change in business will inevitably slow things down but in time, the process will improve.
Based on responses The Rocket received from its poll, Grocery stores, like Giant Eagle, do not have to worry about a decline in shoppers aged 18 to 24. When asked if they prefer to have their groceries delivered using services such as Instacart or Doordash, 90.6% of respondents indicated they still prefer going to the store.
For Galmarini, his goal is to offer more employment opportunities while also offering positive customer service interaction. Given Giant Eagle’s proximity to the SRU campus, this could lead to more SRU student employment opportunities.
Giant Eagle serves the community seven days a week, 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.