I wonder which choice is the natural one among the options below?

  • A: Did you buy all the items within the list?
    B: Yea, just I was short on cash, so I (became indebted to / owed) the .............. 30 dollars.
    A: No worries, you can repay him tomorrow.

a. supermarket's sales person
b. supermarket's clerk

Please let me know if there is a better and more natural way to say that.

  • Supermarkets don't have people who try to get you buy something. What do you mean, exactly, by "sales person"? I also have no idea how the fictional conversation you provide has any relation to a sales person—it seems like something unrelated to the two choices you are presenting. May 10, 2020 at 20:47
  • You might be thinking of cashier, but I'm totally confused by the question … May 10, 2020 at 20:48
  • I'm sorry Jason; I guess I didn't make my intention clear. I meant the person who you pay to at a supermarket. Perhaps "cashier" is the best choice. You're right. But let me explain that to you. In some eastern countries (like Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, etc, some supermarkets of distant places and small cities do not have cash machine. So they don't have any cashier. There are one or even two salespeople who work there, take money from customers and even put the store in order organizing the goods in their right places within shelves.
    – A-friend
    May 10, 2020 at 21:06
  • 1
    @A-friend OK, I understand now. The person you deal with in the market is the "cashier", but if it's such a small business that you can get immediate credit, you are probably dealing with the grocer or owner themselves. May 10, 2020 at 22:05
  • 1
    @A-friend Ok, then. Another option would be "shopkeeper", which would apply to other types of markets too. May 10, 2020 at 22:38

2 Answers 2


Taking A as the person who sent B shopping, the blank could be filled in by "grocer" or more generally, "shopkeeper".
( This is keeping in mind that such informal credit transactions probably don't take place in a supermarket, but in a small country store where the customer and the shopkeeper/owner know each other.)


From a clarification under the question, when you go to a supermaket, the person you pay for your groceries is the cashier:

: one that has charge of money: such as
a : a high officer in a bank or trust company responsible for moneys received and expended
b : one who collects and records payments
c : an employee (as in a store) who handles monetary transactions

It's the third sense here that's the most relevant with respect to a supermarket.

In supermarkets, there can be 10 or more cashiers, each in their own lane.

This position might also be referred to as a clerk (or checkout clerk):

3 b : one employed to keep records or accounts or to perform general office work
        // a bank clerk
3 c : one who works at a sales or service counter
        // a store clerk
        // a grocery clerk

In my personal experience, I've heard clerk (or checkout clerk) used more often in UK English. However, a comment under this answer indicated that hasn't been the experience of somebody else, at least not when it comes to regular speech.

With respect to a different answer, at least in North America, those 10 people would not be called a grocer or shopkeeper. Those words, are reserved for the owners of the stores. In a small store, it could be that the owner is also serving in the same role as cashier, but it's almost certainly not the case in any large chain store with more than a single checkout location.

Not to belabour this point, but a supermarket is a large store with many different checkout aisles and cashiers. It would be highly unusual (and it's never happened to me) to ever see the owner of a supermarket working the cash.

Small stores, which have only a single person on the cash, are not called supermarkets. They are called corner stores or variety stores. Only with these informally so called mom and pop stores would you be likely to see the owner (grocer or shopkeeper) at the cash.

To address another comment under the question, the machine itself that's used to store the money is not called a cashier (who is a person). It's called a cash register:

: a business machine that usually has a money drawer, indicates the amount of each sale, and records the amount of money received

// Employee worked at the cash register then put on gloves and assembled plates of food without washing hands between tasks.
— Ebony Day, azcentral, "Too warm coleslaw among violations found in restaurant inspections," 15 Apr. 2020

So, cashiers work at cash registers.

  • Actually, clerk is not used of shop employees in the UK. (In the link you provided, 'British usually' refers to the British pronunciation 'clark'.) We say shop assistant, or, in the supermarket, checkout operator. May 11, 2020 at 9:13
  • @KateBunting That's interesting. Because the several times I've been there, I've heard it used. At least in my personal experience, I've heard checkout clerk. And that's a phrase I've only heard there. May 11, 2020 at 12:59
  • OK, the phrase checkout clerk does seem to exist, but I suspect it's used more in business textbooks and the like than in everyday speech. May 11, 2020 at 15:45
  • @KateBunting Thanks for the input. I've modified my answer to try to keep it objective. May 11, 2020 at 15:58

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