Tesco check-out free store: supermarket giant takes on Amazon with launch of new shop format

The new store echoes a similar move by Amazon, which opened its first UK ‘just walk out’ store earlier in 2021

Tesco has opened its first check-out free store in London amid an intensifying race to perfect ‘just walk out’ technology.

The supermarket giant unveiled the new format at its Tesco Express in High Holborn, central London today (19 October).

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It follows similar moves by fellow retailers Amazon and Aldi, both of which opened check-out free shops in London earlier this year.

Tesco’s ‘big four’ supermarket rival Morrisons has since mooted making such a move.

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Shoppers at Tesco’s High Holborn store in London will be able to walk out without going through a check-out (image: AFP/Getty Images)

How does Tesco’s new shop work?

Called GetGo, the check-out free Tesco store replaces checkouts by using cameras designed to track the items shoppers place in their baskets.

To use the shop, customers must first download the Tesco app, which they have to scan as they enter the store.

They can then shop as normal, but instead of taking the items to a till, shoppers are able to walk straight out of the shop.

Once they have left, customers will receive a receipt and be charged for the products via the app.

As well as being tracked by cameras, the new store will use weight sensors to recognise when items have been taken off a shelf.

Tesco said it has been testing this technology since 2019 at a trial site within its Welwyn Garden City HQ.

‘No job losses’

Despite removing check-outs from its store, Tesco said the technology would not lead to job losses.

Its High Holborn site would continue to employ 22 workers, which it said was in line with other convenience stores.

Staff would still be required to replenish stock, while the trial store’s age-restricted section (containing products like alcohol), would have to be manned for ID checks.

Amazon opened the UK’s first check-out free supermarket in February 2021 (image: Getty Images)

Could Tesco open more checkout-free stores?

At the moment, the High Holborn store is the only one taking part in Tesco’s trial.

However, the supermarket’s managing director of Tesco Convenience, Kevin Tindall, suggested more could be on their way.

He said: “We are constantly looking for ways to improve the shopping experience and our latest innovation offers a seamless checkout for customers on the go, helping them to save a bit more time.

“This is currently just a one-store trial, but we’re looking forward to seeing how our customers respond.”

What have Tesco’s rivals done?

Check-out free stores first officially reached the UK in February 2021 when Amazon launched its first Amazon Fresh grocery shop in Ealing, West London.

Amazon had already trialled the format in the USA and has since opened five more ‘just walk out’ shops across the capital.

This move also marked the first time Amazon had opened a bricks and mortar grocery store in the UK - a move which put it in direct competition with UK supermarkets.

Since these initial launches, Aldi opened its own check-out free store in Greenwich, London in September - although it is still being trialled by staff.

And Morrisons has also signaled its intent to enter the fray, with a trial underway at its Bradford HQ.

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