Walmart, Costco Considering a Radical Change in Stores as Problems with Self-Checkout Becomes Clear

Walmart, Costco Considering a Radical Change in Stores as Problems with Self-Checkout Becomes Clear

The honeymoon period with the self-checkout register is officially over.

What once was a convenient alternative, quickly became the only option in many retail stores, as it was sold as an efficient, cost cutting solution meant to move customers in and out of stores quickly.

Consumers bought into the illusion that this would “help” make their time at the supermarket better. Yes, they would give up small talk with cashiers in the trade. But many considered these pleasantries valueless and disposable anyway, so they embraced “progress” — or so they thought.

They’ve been kicking themselves ever since. Ask these same people how they feel about the self-checkout register today and plenty of consumers would say that they wished things would return to the way they used to be in stores.

Not only is there hardly any personnel to help customers when needed, but the once-conveniently short self-checkout line is now the longest in the store. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic certainly had a hand in exacerbating this reality.

To that same end, imperfect technology can make a quick trip to the market turn into a seemingly endless, frustrating one. Who hasn’t experienced the moment when you can’t weigh your one and only bag and require the assistance of an employee who may or may not be able to help you.

Annoying? Without question.

No doubt the age of the self-checkout register, which began in the 1980’s but exploded in the 2000’s in supermarkets and convenience stores according to Spanish-American news site Diario AS, is here to stay. But now even some of the largest retailers are re-evaluating the actual use of them.

This includes chains like Booths supermarkets in the United Kingdom as well as Walmart, Wegman’s, Five Below, and Costco in the United States.

Coping with criticisms from annoyed customers is one key reason.

Another one is theft by way of checking oneself out of the store. It seems there is a ton of this occurring, either directly or indirectly. These lanes are not too popular, but thieves know exactly how to use them.

According to AS, “Costco had also discovered that customers who were not members of the club were using membership cards that were not theirs to ring up their own purchases.”

There is no excuse for this sort of dishonesty, but it’s also impossible to deny that tough times and liberal Democratic policies specific to theft are taking its collective toll. Now it is costing large retailers and small retailers their profits. That’s typically the trigger for stores to change their ways.

In the case of the big box stores like Costco, they can absorb the “shrink,” otherwise known as the loss of inventory. They still have the bandwidth to figure out a better approach to utilizing self-checkout registers.

Small retailers don’t have that same flexibility. Many, especially in this economy, are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Any size loss today could put them over the edge and out of business. Punishing thieves and criminals properly is a huge part of the answer.

Under the current Biden administration and Democratic Party, however, that isn’t going to happen. Thieves know this and have come to depend on it to assist in their stealing.

This expectation forces retailers to adjust their own practices.

According to AS: “A study of stores in the US, Britain, and some other European countries, discovered that shops that offered self-checkout suffered a 4% loss, which is more than twice the rate in the retail industry.”

This type of loss is the reason Booth supermarkets announced “that it is going back to old-fashioned human beings to check people out,” according to CNN Business. It is also the reason Walmart removed these registers from some stores in New Mexico as well as modified the self-checkout lanes in other stores to accommodate more employee attendees.

Walmart insists that it won’t be going to this extreme in all of its stores.

In all likelihood, plenty of customers will appreciate this switch, no matter what the impetus. Ultimately, any potential extra time spent in a store will be worth it, especially if it means better pay for additional employee salaries — as opposed to giving away that money to thieves.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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