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It is too early to tell if self-checkouts will go away, or be greatly reduced in retail stores, but growing evidence would make you think it has begun.

  Experts say self-checkouts becoming a major source of retail theft

If you visit, for example, a Walmart in WA state, you will see large numbers of self-checkout stands. The chain, over the last few years, has been trying to cut employee costs by doing away with as many as 75 percent of manned stations. Walgreens, Target, even Costco have followed suit.

But now, as officials are learning one of the biggest growing sources of theft is this labor-saving device. Several Walmart stores in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are being remodeled to remove most of their self-checkouts. A total of 3 stores in that region are being modified.  Some other chains are removing more of them little by little.

The website Supermarket News says a recent poll of retail officials indicates 73 percent believe self-checkout only will still be the wave of the future. But, rising retail theft is causing many to think twice.

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 A report from August 2023, on CBNC indicates major retail chains such as Target, Walmart, and others are closely watching theft trends tied to self-checkouts. Retail theft is referred to as "shrink," and now it has reached epidemic status, according to the CNBC report.  They also had this to say about self-checkouts:

"Retailers have another self-made problem that can lead to more stolen goods. Self-checkout machines also increase the risk of theft, and they have become a major source of losses."

40 years ago, internal employee theft was the number one cause of shrinkage, said experts in the CNBC report, but now external and self-checkout have exceeded that.

It may take some time for this to 'trickle' down to WA state, but a November 14th, 2023 story at CNN Money indicates major retailers are rethinking self-checkouts altogether. A British food-retail chain, Booths, says it will remove self-checkout options in all but 2 of its 28 stores.

READ MORE: Walmart Says Retail Theft Could Drive Up Prices, Close Stores

Walmart has limited self-checkout in some stores during certain times of day based on "customer flow." During those times, only paying Walmart+ members can use the lanes.

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