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California bill may get rid of self-checkout lanes at grocers, certain retailers

A recently introduced bill in California proposes restrictions on self-checkout options at grocery stores and some retailers. This initiative aims to tackle rising theft rates within the industry.

Senate Bill 1446, authored by Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, wouldn’t completely eliminate self-service checkouts. However, it outlines specific requirements for their continued use. One key stipulation is that a single employee can only oversee a maximum of two self-checkout stations, and they must be solely dedicated to this task.

The bill goes beyond regulating existing technology. It also mandates that grocers and certain retailers assess the potential impact of future technological advancements, particularly those involving artificial intelligence, on their workforce. This assessment would determine whether the technology significantly hinders core job functions or even eliminates positions altogether.

Senator Smallwood-Cuevas emphasizes the financial losses attributed to self-checkout theft. She cites statistics suggesting self-service lanes result in losses 16 times greater than traditional cashier-operated checkouts, amounting to a staggering $10 billion annually.

Beyond the financial impact, the Senator expresses concern for employee safety. She highlights the increased vulnerability of staff managing self-checkout stations, who are often tasked with multiple duties – stocking shelves, operating checkouts, assisting customers – all while attempting to monitor for theft.

This proposal to curb theft through the removal of self-checkout machines isn’t an isolated incident. Major retailers like Walmart have already begun scaling back on their self-checkout options for similar reasons. Five Below, another retailer, has transitioned entirely to associate-assisted checkouts across all locations to address theft concerns.

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