Safeway Is Closing Self Checkout Machines Across Several California Stores Amid Rising Retail Theft

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By NTD Newsroom
May 30, 2024California
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Safeway Is Closing Self Checkout Machines Across Several California Stores Amid Rising Retail Theft
The Safeway logo is displayed at a Safeway store in San Anselmo, Calif., April 30, 2009. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The rise in retail crime in California is taking its toll on businesses. In a recent move, some Safeway stores in the Bay Area have removed the self-checkout option, which means shoppers will no longer have the option to pay for goods at a self-service kiosk.

Safeway issued a statement to media outlets confirming the removal of some of its self-checkout machines in stores across the county. The company, however, did not say which particular stores would be affected or how many.

The company cited the escalating retail theft as a reason, which has resulted in significant losses as too many customers steal items when using self-checkout.

“Operational changes have been made at select stores throughout the Bay Area given the increasing amount of theft,” according to Safeway’s statement.

“Self-checkout kiosks have been removed at a few stores.”

The company added that it is taking necessary steps to ensure the safety of its employees while allowing for a pleasant shopping experience for its customers.

“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.”

Earlier this month, self-checkout machines were removed at Safeway on Pleasant Valley Road in Oakland, leaving an empty space and a display of soda cans where the machines used to be.

The store is one of several that implemented the measure, including certain Safeway stores in San Francisco and Emeryville.

According to some retail experts, this is due to calculations based on the amount of theft at the locations.

Two Safeway stores in Oakland, one on Grand Avenue and another on College Avenue, still had self-checkout machines as of May 27, but it is unclear whether these will also be removed in the future.

The decision to remove the machines has left some customers disappointed and concerned about lengthy waiting times during busy periods.

However, not everyone is convinced of the feasibility of self-checkouts, such as Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, who argued that the machines are responsible for billions of dollars of loss each year, as they effectively give shoplifters a free ticket to theft.

Ms. Smallwood-Cuevas recently introduced legislation that sets a minimum staffing level of one worker for every two self-checkout machines in an effort to reduce retail theft and protect jobs.

“While it’s crucial to adapt to new technologies, protecting jobs and worker safety must be prioritized in the process,” Ms. Smallwood-Cuevas said in a press release.

NTD contacted Ms. Smallwood-Cuevas and Safeway for further comment, but did not receive a reply before publication of this article.

Retail theft has become a major problem in California, largely due to laws in the state, including Prop. 47, which allows theft under the $950 felony threshold to go unpunished. The issue has prompted several lawmakers in the state to establish a Retail Theft Committee to address it.

Established by Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas in October last year, the 11-member panel consists of nine Democrats and two Republicans and is tasked with identifying solutions to what lawmakers describe as an “ongoing crisis.”

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