Nearly a third of Gen-Zers steal from self-checkout aisles: survey

Roughly one in three young shoppers in the U.S. has admitted to giving themselves five-finger discounts at self-checkout counters, a new survey shows.  

According to loan marketplace LendingTree, 31% of Gen-Z consumers have stolen items from self-checkout kiosks, compared to 15% of consumers of any age. Those figures come as businesses work to combat shoplifting, which some retailers have blamed for hurting their financial performance and even for store closures

“Ultimately, retailers need to decide whether the self-checkout terminals are worth the risk,” LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz said in a statement. “That’s a question lots of retailers are likely wrestling with.”

LendingTree based its findings on a survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers between the ages of 18 and 77. 

Although some respondents to the poll said they regretted having sticky fingers, 44% planned to continue stealing from self-checkout kiosks, while 37% said they would do so to save money on groceries or health care goods, according to the survey. Of those who had stolen at kiosks, only a thir said they had ever been caught, the data shows. Self-checkout phase out

Retailers are generally reluctant to disclose information on the prevalence of theft, making it hard to gauge how common self-checkout theft is compared to other forms of stealing, Neil Saunders, a retail analyst at GlobalData Retail, told CBS MoneyWatch. 

Theft data is “commercially sensitive information that [retailers are] under no obligation to reveal,” he said. “There is a fear that highlighting the issue may encourage more self-checkout theft.”

Still, losses resulting from the use of automated checkout stations appear to have spurred several major retailers to do away with the kiosks or beef up measures to detect thefts, according to Saunders.

Safeway stores turn to tech to deter shoplifting


Walmart removed self-checkout stations at some of its stores in New Mexico earlier this year after employees reported a rise in self-checkout thefts, Insider reported. Similarly, Wegmans scrapped its scan-as-you-shop self-checkout system last year because of excessive theft, Saunders said. 

Meanwhile, Costco has said it plans to station more of its employees at self-checkout areas after acknowledging this year that it had suffered losses “in part…due to the rollout of self-checkout.” 

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