Major Retailers Make Huge Changes to Self Check Out Lanes to Take Effect as Soon as This Sunday

Major retailers across the United States are facing significant challenges related to inventory theft, particularly at self-checkout registers.

Target just announced changes to its self-checkout policy, limiting shoppers to a maximum of 10 items per transaction starting from Sunday.

This move comes as a response to the growing problem of “shrink,” a term used in the industry to describe inventory losses due to theft.

Target’s decision to restrict the use of self-checkout lanes and open more traditional cashier-operated registers illustrates the severity of the issue.

As CEO Brian Cornell stated, “We are committed to providing our guests with a safe and secure shopping experience while also ensuring the profitability of our business.”

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Other retailers are also taking steps to address the problem.

Walmart, for instance, is limiting access to self-checkout stations to certain members, specifically delivery drivers and Walmart+ subscribers. This approach aims to reduce the opportunities for theft while still providing convenience to valued customers.

Dollar General, another major retailer, is going a step further by eliminating almost all of its self-checkout stations across its stores.

CEO Todd Vasos emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “We are moving with a sense of urgency.” The company is also simplifying its operations by removing up to 1,000 items from its stores to combat shrink.

The impact of theft on retailers’ bottom lines is substantial.

Dollar General reported a decline in gross margins during the fourth quarter, attributed to higher shrink rates, increased markdowns, and a shift towards lower-margin consumables.

Home Depot, despite facing challenges, remains committed to serving major US cities, including Oakland, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

CEO Ted Decker revealed that the company has experienced a notable increase in theft over the past five years, with more than 142,000 instances of shrink in 2023 alone. Decker emphasized the societal nature of the problem, stating, “This is the result of very, very serious societal problems.”

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The home-improvement giant has invested heavily in technology to combat organized retail crime.

However, the widespread theft has forced Home Depot to absorb billions of dollars into its cost structure and reconsider its expansion plans, removing certain cities from its list of potential new store locations.