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ATLANTA - Self-scan checkouts are being billed as a panacea for supermarkets, discounters, and other retailers, but don't expect to see them in Target Stores any time soon.
"We find that self-checkouts are expensive and slower to use than associate-run checkouts, so we have no plans to install them in our stores at this time," Gerald L. Storch, vice chairman of Minneapolis-based Target, said when he spoke last week at the CIES World Food Business Summit 2002 in Atlanta. "When we get to the point where the whole body and shopping cart is scanned, then it will be OK," he added.
But Target remains on the cutting edge of technology in other areas. Its Target Visa card is the largest "smart card" currently in circulation. Each card has a 64,000-bit memory chip that will track customer purchases and offer them instant savings at the checkout. "We will have chip card technology in all of our stores by this fall, and that will eliminate the need for paper coupons," Storch said.
Currently operating more than 1,000 stores across the country, Target is growing like wildfire, and expects to eventually have 3,000 domestic stores. That figure is based on the penetration in its home state of Minnesota, where it was established as a discount division of the Dayton department store chain in 1962.
Food is a growing component in its stores, particularly in its Super Targets that marry a supermarket with a traditional Target. "We try to bring fashion to food. We think about food as an apparel business," Storch said.
Target doesn't go up against Wal-Mart and supermarket chains based on price. While it does issue a weekly circular, it spends $1 billion a year building the Target brand, largely through campy television commercials.