Wearne, 39, a Tolland resident who owns a power-washing service, reluctantly used a self-serve lane at the Manchester Big Y to ring up granola bars and a 12-pack of Miller Genuine Draft but had to wait while a clerk checked his identification.
If he hadn't seen the clerk standing there immediately ready to help, he said, he would have used the traditional lanes, as he usually does.
But for time-crunched Greg Styles, a self-described "get-it-and-go type of guy," the top priority is paying and leaving without lingering in a checkout lane.
Styles, a 47-year-old South Windsor resident, says the convenience of the self-serve lanes fits into his busy life as a college lacrosse coach and father of 7-year-old twins.
"I'm not happy about it, not at all," Styles said of the change, ringing up baked goods and chicken breasts on a recent afternoon at Big Y's Manchester store. "I like to get in and get out. These lanes are quick and really easy, so I use them all the time."
He's not the typical shopper, though, according to research.
While some chains are reducing their self-serve options, others say they're keeping it in place along with the traditional lanes because they think giving shoppers that choice is an important part of customer service.
"Our philosophy is giving customers options. People shop in different ways and we want to accommodate their preferences," said Suzi Robinson, a spokeswoman for Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., which has self-serve lanes in about 85 percent of its nearly 400 stores in the Northeast.
Another chain, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons LLC, has said it's phasing out self-service lanes. Kroger says it's keeping the self-service option because customers like it, although one remodeled store replaced it with another quick-checkout method that uses a cashier.
Phil Lempert, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based food industry analyst, noted that supermarkets have a few other motivations to get rid of the self-serve lanes beyond customer service.
They will eventually need to replace their checkout computers to read newly emerging types of bar codes, so there's little business sense in keeping and replacing those self-serve machines if they're not well-used anyway, he said.
Perhaps more important, he said, the growing trend toward using bar code-reading programs on smartphones is likely to change everything in supermarket shopping over time.