Self-service checkouts are ‘an opportunity to be dishonest’, says retail expert

Self-service checkouts are ‘an opportunity to be dishonest’, says retail expert

Friday, February 1, 2019

Claire Bailey, an independent retail expert has said that self-service checkouts in supermarkets give some people “an opportunity to be dishonest”.

Shoplifting in British supermarkets has increased by more than 7% in the last four years, as data from 25 police forces show officers were called to investigate 78,110 shoplifting incidents in 2017.

Ms Bailey told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “What we do know is that the self-service areas in shops do open it up more easily to those who are likely to be dishonest and not pay for their goods.

“In a way we have got a situation where supermarkets are choosing to offer the self-service checkout and the scan as you go so there does mean there is an element of trust.

“What that does offset is perhaps the cost of staffing and also some of the queues. Only 50% of people like these things, the rest hate them.

“For some people it is actually a more efficient way to scan as you go or do the self-checkout, for others it is an opportunity to be dishonest. I think that does open the door to an element of misbehaviour.”


'Feeling the pinch'

However, Ms Bailey also said supermarkets may feel they need to take a “more aggressive” attitude towards shoplifting because they are “feeling the pinch”.

“[Shoplifting] has always been an issue for retail but we don’t know whether the data is hiding the fact that there are more incidents being reported because there is more vigilance,” she said.

“If retailers are feeling the pinch from falling consumer confidence and eroded margins, are they now being more aggressive on shoplifting and reporting it more so it appears to have got worse. In the past, they might have turned a blind-eye.”

She added: “As a retailer, I would be looking for every possibility to shut down avenues for haemorrhaging my potential profit.

“If that means zero-policy on shoplifting and report every incident that I find reliable, it will of course push the figures even if the figures have not actually gone up.”