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Target's new self-checkout rules might be a welcome change

Target reported that it lost $500 million more in inventory shrink in 2023 compared to 2022, but the company is optimistic changes will slow shrink.
Posted at 10:42 AM, Mar 18, 2024

Target has implemented new self-checkout rules at many of its locations as some retailers have said self-checkouts can cause an increase in theft. The new rules will apply at most of Target's nearly 2,000 locations. 

Target said that customers will now be limited to 10 items for self-checkout. With fewer transactions being eligible for self-checkouts, Target says it will open more traditional checkout lanes. 

The new rules went into effect on Sunday.

The company said that it began testing express self-checkouts during the pandemic at 200 locations and said it led to faster checkout times. 

"Self-checkout was twice as fast at our pilot stores. By having the option to pick self-checkout for a quick trip, or a traditional, staffed lane when their cart is full, guests who were surveyed told us the overall checkout experience was better, too," Target said.

Earlier this month, Target Executive Vice President Michael Fiddelke said the company lost $500 million more in shrink in 2023 than in 2022. Shrink is the industry term for losses companies incur when products are stolen or not properly sold. 

"Happily, we've seen some encouraging trends recently resulting from both the actions we've taken and the community efforts we're seeing across the country," Fiddelke said. "I want to give a quick shout out to our assets protection and information security teams who are working around the clock to protect the safety of our team and our guests."

Costco trying out new system for shoppers entering its stores
Shoppers approach the entrance of a Costco

Costco trying out new system for shoppers entering its stores

The new approach is an effort to crack down on nonmembers sneaking in with cards that don't belong to them.


And there are reasons to believe customers will embrace the changes made by Target.

A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Business Research by researchers from Drexel University and the University of San Diego indicated that self-checkouts can damage customer loyalty. 

The study found that as customers are forced to scan more items, their checkout experience becomes less rewarding. The researchers also said that customers experienced negative consequences with larger orders, such as the extra effort to bag purchases. 

 "For both moderately sized and large baskets, regular checkout systems have a positive impact on customers’ loyalty to the store," the study said.