SAN FRANCISCO, California – In a left-field move, the 16th Street Safeway store has completely removed its self-checkout zone. This was shown by an image that quickly circulated on social media, showing an empty space where the self-checkout machines used to be. Since the removal, this Safeway store hasn’t explicitly mentioned why they removed the technology.
However, this follows a growing trend across various Safeway stores in the region and the removal of the machines. In short, this has to do with the idea of curbing shoplifting. Typically, self-checkout machines are associated with more shoplifting due to the lack of human presence with fewer workers nearby.
Another reason is that recent studies have shown that self-checkouts can make shoppers lose loyalty to supermarkets due to losing the personal touch of social interaction with workers. Regardless of the reason for the removal, it looks like this is permanent and the store is not closing down either.
Whether this play works in the long run remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it highlights a shift in shopping patterns and that sometimes, technology isn’t always the answer. On a separate note, it is currently unknown as to what will happen to the floor space now that the self-checkout machines have gone. However, this could signal a nationwide trend for Safeway and other retail giants as they grapple with the changing landscape of shopper behavior.