Target’s Self-checkout Policy Not About Reducing Theft

Target’s self-checkout policy not about reducing theft

The 10-item limit is reportedly meant to reduce wait times; retailer cites customer appreciation of full-service lanes

Target’s test of limiting self-checkout lanes to 10 items or less is not part of its efforts to curb shoplifting or reduce shrink.

A spokesperson for the Minneapolis-based retailer said that the test was designed to shorten wait times and better understand shopper preferences.

As previously reported by Supermarket News, Target has been testing the 10-item limit at self-checkout lanes in Maine. Still, the test also appears to be taking place in other markets around the country, based on scattered social media reports.

In a conference call with analysts last week discussing third-quarter financial results, John Mulligan, chief operating officer, said the company has seen full-service checkout use increase by six percentage points since the retailer has “refocused on the frontend experience.”

“Our guests tell us they enjoy interacting with our team,” he said, although he did not address the 10-item limit specifically.

Mulligan also said Target saw “sustained month-over-month improvement” in its Net Promoter Score related to interactions with store personnel at checkout.

A Target spokesperson could not be reached for comment for this article.

Target’s move follows Walmart’s removal of self-checkout from three stores in New Mexico to reduce theft and Wegmans’ suspension of its self-checkout app last year, reportedly to cut down on shoplifting losses.

Stores are dealing with shrinkage and higher losses, so they are looking for ways to crack down on that.

It was eliminating self-checkout at all but two of its 28 stores in the United Kingdom.

Although Target said the changes being tested in its self-checkout policy were not designed to minimize theft, the company has often cited the increasing challenges around shrink, including theft and organized retail crime.

“Growth in shrink remains a significant financial headwind, and we’re determined to continue making progress in the years ahead,” said Michael Fiddelke, Chief Financial Officer.