Computerized interactive units - similar to Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) found at banks - are playing an increasing role at retail stores, according to New York-based Intermark Corp.

Intermark, a designer-producer of the units, reports the trend apparently stems from a decrease in the number of sales clerks and an increasing self-service environment at larger-sized retail stores.Interactive machines are handling retail assignments including product purchase recommendations and sales messages for such items as health-and-beauty aids, wearing apparel, vitamins, travel and sporting goods, shoe care, insecticides, products and tools for home-improvement projects, and foods and beverages.

Most recently, interactive units are proving successful "on location" in retail stores for oil and gas, fuel additives, automotive lighting, general automotive appearance products, surface protectants and accessories popular in the automotive aftermarket field, says Intermark.

While most of the interactive machine placements are in the United States, the company notes they also are beginning to be found in Canada, Europe and Japan.