Schnucks Makes Changes to Self-Checkout Chainwide

Midwest grocer limits sales at self-checkout amid efficiency, theft concerns
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Schnucks to Open 112th Store
Missouri-based Schnucks is introducing a 10-item limit to its self-checkouts.

Feb. 1 marks a change for self-checkout at Schnuck Markets Inc. The chain's self-checkout lanes will start putting restrictions on the amount of items customers can purchase.

Self-checkout lanes in all of its stores will be limited to customers who have 10 items or less to purchase, the grocer confirmed with Business Insider. Customers with more than 10 items will be redirected to staffed checkout lanes to complete their purchases.

[RELATED: Younger Consumers Loyal to Self-Checkout]

According to Schnucks, the primary reason for the policy change is to improve checkout efficiency. "When self-checkouts were first introduced, they were intended for smaller orders,” said the grocer. “Over time, larger orders began moving through self-checkouts, and we are hoping to address that concern."

While the change helps improve customer service, a store representative also said that Schnucks expects the change to lower shopping thefts.

"Because self-checkouts are more susceptible to theft, this item limit will help us maintain our costs while keeping the prices lower for our customers," Schnucks said. 

According to research from Berkeley, Calif.-based Grabango, self-checkout machines are contributing to shrink in a major way, with losses totaling 3.5% of sales, or more than 16 times more loss than that of traditional cashier lanes.

Schnucks is the latest food retailer rethinking its self-checkout strategy. For example, Costco is asking shoppers for photo ID at self-checkout to make it more difficult to share membership cards. Additionally, over at Wakefern Food Corp., its ShopRite banner had to add back designated full-service checkout lanes to its Delaware stores after facing customer backlash over its self-checkout approach

Meanwhile, Schnucks is also piloting another change at some of its locations' self-checkout lanes. At 13 of its stores, self-checkout stations will no longer accept and give back cash.

St. Louis-based Schnucks operates 115 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, and employs 12,000 associates. The company is No. 64 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company a Top Regional Grocer. Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco is No. 3 on The PG 100, while Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern  is No. 29.

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