The person on the till

Last night at the French conversation group one of the things we talked about was shopping, particularly in supermarkets, and one of the words we weren’t sure of was till / cash register. I now know this is la caisse (enregistreuse) or le tiroir caisse and that someone who works on a till is possibly un caissier or une caissière.

This got me thinking what you call such a person in English. You might call them a shop assistant or maybe a cashier, but neither of these seems to fit the job very well.

What would you call such a person? Would the term you use depend on the kind of shop?

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This entry was posted in English, French, Language, Words and phrases.

12 Responses to The person on the till

  1. pennifer says:

    Here in the US, in all the places I’ve been, this would be a cashier. Without a doubt, no awkwardness. What’s wrong with ‘cashier’ in your mind?

  2. Adrienne says:

    I would use cashier in a grocery store or anyplace where the person’s job consists mostly of standing at the cash register ringing things up. (I’m also in the US, midwest.)

    I might use a different term for someone who actually helps you while you’re shopping, even tho in some situations they will also perform the functions of a cashier when you’re ready to check out. In many situations “salesperson” would work. Other times I might say something really generic like, “I couldn’t find what I needed, so I got an employee to help me.”

  3. Randy Clark says:

    Cashier or at a supermarket “check-out clerk”.

  4. David Eger says:

    In Britain, ‘cashier’ more often refers to someone that works on a bank counter, I think – although it is sometimes also used for someone that works on a shop till.

    ‘Sales assistant’ seems to be the ‘official’ job title nowadays. ‘Shop assistant’ is also used. But either of those terms could equally refer to someone that works on the shop floor, answering customers’ queries etc.

    In supermarkets, ‘check-out girl’ (regardless of age) is quite common, but that assumes the person is female – ‘check-out boy’ sounds odd to me, but that might just be because the post is predominantly occupied by females.

    In a small shop (one with only one till), I might say ‘shopkeeper’, regardless of whether the person serving at the till is actually the business owner or manager.

  5. David Eger says:

    A ‘salesman’ (‘-woman’ or ‘-person’), to me, is more someone that ‘sells’ in the sense of persuading someone to buy a product, rather than someone that merely facilitates the transaction.

  6. Drabkikker says:

    In Dutch we use the French word, caissière; alternatively verkoper (m) / verkoopster (f) “selling person”.

  7. missjane says:

    In Australia we call them ‘checkout chicks’. This is obviously informal, but is generally affectionate, occasionally condescending.

  8. michael farris says:

    In my US dialect

    ‘shop assistant’ does not exist (as a single expression) that would be a (sales)clerk or salesperson

    a person whose main job is ringing up merchandise and collecting money is a cashier.

    When I worked a few months at a convenience story many years ago I think my official job title was salesclerk but abbreviated to clerk (rimes with perk) on an everyday basis.

    In Polish the station is kasa (which has other meanings as well) and person working at it is kasjer (man) or kasjerka (woman)

  9. David Eger says:

    In the UK, ‘clerk’ (rhymes with ‘park’) is a slightly old fashioned word now. We still refer to ‘clerical work’ (non-administrative office work), but ‘office clerk’ is rarely heard in modern times. The only possible current instance of its use I can think of is ‘bank clerk’.

  10. Indeed, the most common term in the U.S. is “cashier”. However, there is a trend here to give some low-paying jobs fancy titles (both seriously as well as in jest), perhaps to make the person doing the job feel important. For example, people working for a certain fast-food sandwich chain are called “sandwich artists” and one large department store refers to their employees as “associates”. A garbage collector can be called a “waste removal engineer”. A gardener can be a “Technical Horticultural Maintenance Officer.” So, perhaps we could call a cashier a “Retail Financial Transaction Engineer”.

  11. d.m.falk says:

    In the US, as mentioned above, “cashier” is the most common, although “clerk” (rhymes with “dirk”, for distinction from UK speakers of the term) is also common.

    d.m.falk
    (northern California)

  12. USA here. I used to work as a cashier at a supermarket. While “cashier” is going to be the pithy “catch-all” term, the industry-insider term for many businesses, especially grocery stores, is “checker”.