Supermarket giant Coles has made a brave and controversial announcement, effectively separating its customers on the basis of age.

The retailer has announced a trial of separate self-checkout areas for shoppers aged 60 years and over.

“Our research shows many older shoppers are still adapting to self-checkout technology,” says Coles’ CEO, Magda Lavich.

“They get stressed when a bar code doesn’t scan properly, or when an item needs to be weighed.”

The self-checkout separation aims to prevent younger shoppers from having to wait for senior shoppers to scan, bag and pay for their groceries.

Coles’ own research shows shoppers aged 60+ take an average of just over 9 minutes to use self-checkout terminals, compared to an average of 96 seconds for shoppers under 60.

“Our new self-checkout areas for seniors will have more staff on hand to assist shoppers, and the machines will have a more simple, user-friendly interface,” says Magda Lavich.

Supermarket security officers will be conducting random ID checks to ensure no older shoppers attempt to use self-checkout areas for younger people.

The separate sections will be introduced on a trial basis next month at five Coles supermarkets around the country.

Staff-assisted checkouts will continue to operate, for all age groups, as normal.

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