California Democrats Set to Kill Self-Checkout Lanes With Slew of Overbearing Regulations

In a move that has sparked heated debate, a new California bill seeks to impose strict limitations on self-checkout options in grocery and retail drug stores.

Senate Bill 1446, proposed by Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D-Dist. 28), would require retailers to comply with a set of conditions to offer self-service checkouts, including capping purchases at 10 items and assigning dedicated employees to monitor the stations.

This bill is yet another example of California’s attempts to exert control over businesses and their operations.

Rather than allowing companies and their customers to make their own choices, the state is interfering with excessive regulations that could ultimately harm both parties.

Under the proposed legislation, stores would be permitted to assign one employee to oversee two self-service checkout stations, with the employee being relieved from all other duties.

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Additionally, establishments must have at least one manual checkout station manned by an employee who is available to assist customers.

Signage would be required to indicate the 10-item limit for self-service checkouts, and customers would be prohibited from purchasing certain items, such as alcohol and tobacco products, at these stations.

Sen. Smallwood-Cuevas claims that the bill is necessary to “protect jobs and ensure worker safety.”

However, the California Grocers Association (CGA) argues that the proposed law would “severely disrupt” the grocery checkout experience and is urging people to oppose it.

The CGA states on its website, “Grocery shoppers enjoy self-checkout for its convenience, yet SB 1446 by Sen. Smallwood-Cuevas proposes to make self-checkout anything but.”

The bill also mandates that stores intending to install self-service checkout technology conduct a study that includes the salaries, benefits, jobs, and work hours that would be eliminated.

Stores must notify and solicit input from employees at least 60 days before drafting the study and provide the study to employees or their collective bargaining representatives at least 60 days before implementing the technology.

While the Western States Council, which represents unionized workers in California, Arizona, and Nevada, has backed the bill, the CGA maintains that decisions about the grocery store checkout experience, technology upgrades, and employee operations should be left in the hands of those who know their stores best: grocers, not politicians.

Many retailers, including grocery stores, implemented self-checkout options during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce personal contact and have kept them in place to cut back on the cost of hiring cashiers.

However, retail theft has become a significant concern, with losses reaching $121.6 billion in 2023 and expected to reach $150 billion by 2026, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Adrian Beck, an emeritus professor with the School of Criminology at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom, told The Epoch Times last month, “We’ve found that 25 percent of their losses are happening through self-checkouts, and they’re now looking at how to effectively address those issues.”

Beck’s report, titled “Global Study on Self-Checkout,” identified theft as a problem with the technology as early as 2022, with 53 percent of the loss being malicious and purposeful, and a significant portion being non-malicious theft due to customer mistakes.

As California continues to push for more government control over businesses, it is essential to consider the potential consequences of such actions.

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By limiting self-checkout options and imposing burdensome regulations, the state may inadvertently harm both retailers and consumers, stifling innovation and convenience in the process.