Countdown to sell Lotto at checkouts

The queue to buy Lotto tickets at a separate supermarket counter after doing the weekend shopping could disappear as Countdown introduces ticket sales at the checkout.

After long-running negotiations with the Lotteries Commission, Countdown has completed a three-month trial in 11 supermarkets of "fastlane", which enables shoppers to buy a limited range of lottery tickets directly at the checkout.

In a briefing to incoming Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne, the commission notes the trial "met all success criteria including sales and positive customer experience".

Countdown said: "Feedback was very positive from customers in relation to not having to queue twice".

Countdown's owner, Progressive Enterprises, started the service in its supermarkets in 1999 "but the technology just wasn't up to it at the time", a spokeswoman said.

A Lotteries Commission spokeswoman said that on average, supermarkets in the pilot programme had an 8 per cent increase in sales compared with similar supermarkets with separate Lotto counters.

The Progressive Enterprises spokeswoman said the wider introduction of the service began in January in stores throughout New Zealand.

Sixty-four Countdown supermarkets now had in-lane sales and the number would top 100 of Countdown's 160 supermarkets by the end of this month.

Checkout sales would be restricted to some tickets, and not the full Lotto range, and would be in stores which already had Lotto. While some stores don't allow purchase of lottery tickets with credit cards, Progressive said all forms of payment would be accepted for checkout sales.

Tickets available at checkouts would be restricted to those that don't require customers to select numbers.

A spokeswoman for Countdown's rival Foodstuffs NZ, which runs New World, Pak'n Save and Four Square stores, said it was discussing offering the same service but she couldn't comment.

The Problem Gambling Foundation believes direct checkout sales of Lotto tickets could result in an increase in gambling.

Chief executive Graeme Ramsay questioned whether New Zealanders "really need to have lotteries products rammed down our throat".

"Having lotteries at every checkout of the supermarket is significantly different from a separate counter. It just makes gambling an everyday part of our lives and we shouldn't be thinking of gambling like that."

- Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald

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