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Safeway_supermarket-store_banner-closeup_2_2_1 (2).png Safeway / Albertsons

Safeway removes self-checkout in some California stores

Retailer seeks to deter theft at certain Bay Area locations, reports said

Some Safeway stores in San Francisco, Oakland, and Emeryville, Calif., have removed their self-checkout lanes in an effort to reduce losses from theft, according to local reports.

The reports did not indicate how many stores have removed the self-checkout stations, but some stores in the area appear to be retaining their self-checkouts.

A spokesperson for Safeway could not be reached for comment.

Local TV station KTVU quoted the retailer as saying that self-checkouts had been removed “at a few stores.”

“Like other local businesses, we are working on ways to curtail escalating theft so we can ensure the well-being of our employees and foster a welcoming environment for our customers,” a Safeway spokesperson told the station.

Local customers interviewed by KTVU said they would miss the convenience of self-checkout and hoped the company would boost service at its staffed checkout lanes to minimize long lines.

Other retailers, including Walmart, Dollar General, and Walgreens, have also recently taken steps to reduce theft by removing self-checkout at some locations. Walmart, for example, said last month that it was eliminating self-checkout at two stores in Missouri and Ohio, after taking out the self-checkout lanes in three Albuquerque stores last year.

The company said the lanes’ removal was based on feedback from employees and customers, shopping patterns, and “business needs in the area.”

Meanwhile, Dollar General said it would remove self-checkout from about 300 of its stores, in part because of increased theft.

Shoplifting appears to remain a significant concern for retailers. Coresight Research recently analyzed quarterly earnings transcripts from several retailers in the U.S. and the U.K., and found that references to “shrink,” “theft,” “shoplifting,” and “retail crime” were 1.5 times higher than the average level of the prior five years. References to shrink and theft in the first quarter of 2024 remained elevated — up 37.8% over the year-ago quarter, according to Coresight.

Earlier this month, California proposed a bill in its state senate that would ban self-checkout in grocery and certain other retailers unless checkout lanes were limited to 10 items or less and were overseen by at least one employee. While the bill’s supporters said the measure seeks to reduce retail theft, some observers saw it as an effort to preserve the jobs of cashiers.

The measure is opposed by the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Grocers Association, and the California Retailers Association, according to local reports.

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