Are stores abandoning self-checkout lanes in SWFL?

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard
Published: Updated:

When you walk inside a store, do you prefer waiting in line to see a cashier or entering the self-checkout section?

Some stores are changing how and when you can scan your items yourself.

Plenty of people enjoy the pace of self-checkout lines.

“I’ll use that every time,” said Kenna Graves, an Estero resident.

“If I can save a little time on an order, then I can do another order,” said Door Dasher Leo Sisco.

Time is money for Sisco. The quicker he’s in and out of the store, the more orders he can deliver and the more money he takes home. That makes the expediency of self-checkout lines all the more important for him.

“It’s quicker than waiting through the long checkout lines,” said Sisco.

While it is convenient for us, it’s become inconvenient for some stores. The goal of self-checkout lanes for many was to save money by cutting some cashier jobs.

However, Florida Gulf Coast University supply chain management professor Dr. Piyush Shah says stores are losing money instead.

“Shrinkage has increased, so in stores which have self-checkouts as compared to stores which do not, we see a 4% more shrinkage, which is theft and all kinds of self-checkout problems that we see,” said Shah.

A Lending Tree survey found 15% of self-checkout users purposely stole, and 40% said they’d do it again.

Stores are pulling back, limiting your access to self-checkout. At Target, those lanes are reserved for people with 10 items or less. They say it’s to reduce wait times.

Self-checkout lanes are open at Walmart only during certain times. The rules vary from store to store.

Costco has employees keeping watch while you scan your groceries. Some smaller stores around the world even got rid of self-checkout lanes and brought cashiers back.

However, that doesn’t mean the bigger stores are doing the same.

“Put up AI, they’ll put up more cameras,” said Shah. “They will try to reduce shrink. Instead of saying that this does not work, they try to somehow make it work.”

Because in the business world, that’s somehow still saving money.

“If I spend a million dollars or $10 million on AI, it’s recorded as an investment, versus when I give salaries to people at my store, it’s recorded as expense,” said Shah.

Enjoy the self-checkout while you can because Shah thinks if smaller stores bring more employees back to the registers, we could see the bigger stores do the same in five to 10 years.

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