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Retailers looking to save on labor costs turn to automation

A customer picks up his lunch from an automated cubby at Eatsa, a fully automated fast food restaurant, in San Francisco, California.  Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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As you hit the shops for the holidays, don’t be surprised if you see more automated systems there to help you find stuff, set up home delivery, check out at the register. Big retailers like Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Whole Foods, and fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Panera Bread are all rolling out more touchscreen kiosks and robotic carts and the like. They want to save consumers time and trouble . . . while saving the company money on labor.  That means retailers are investing IN technology — like automated kiosks or concierge services to order food or ask about a sweater size. But they may need fewer employees as a result.

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