California bill could remove self-checkout lanes at grocers, certain retailers

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A newly proposed bill in California could ban grocery stores and certain retailers from offering self-checkout options for customers in an effort to cut down on theft. 

Senate Bill 1446 would “prohibit a grocery or retail drug establishment from providing a self-service checkout option for customers unless specified conditions are met,” according to a summary of the proposed legislation. 

Some of these conditions are that no more than two self-service checkout stations can be monitored by any one employee and the employee has to be relieved of all other duties, according to the bill summary. 

It would also make grocers and certain retailers assess the potential impact of using certain artifical intelligence or other technology that “significantly affects the essential job functions of its employees” or completely eliminates their jobs.  

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Democratic state Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, who introduced the bill, said self-checkout machines cause 16 times more losses compared to check-outs with a cashier.

About $10 billion in losses are attributed to these checkout stands annually, Smallwood-Cuevas said.

Aside from losing out on profits, she is also worried about keeping employees safe as theft continues to proliferate in the industry. 

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“As self-checkout has become more commonplace, loan workers have become easy targets for theft and violence as they are forced to stock merchandise, operate checkout stations, and cater to customers” all while “trying to monitor their stores for retail theft,” Smallwood-Cuevas said.

FOX Business reached out to Smallwood-Cuevas’ office for comment.

women shopping groceries

The idea of removing shelf checkout machines to curb theft isn’t new. Last month, Walmart said it was scaling back on its self-checkout machines at some stores, citing an effort to combat theft. 

Five Below also began cutting back on its self-check out machines in an effort to reduce theft and has “now evolved” to associate-assisted checkout across its over 1,500 locations, CEO Joel Anderson said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.

FOX Business’ Aislinn Murphy contributed to this report. 

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