California considering bill limiting self-checkout at grocery, drug stores

May 11, 2024


A California bill reportedly aimed at preventing shoplifting could significantly restrict the use of self-checkout kiosks at large grocery and drug stores and lead to higher prices.

Senate Bill 1446, introduced by state Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas in February, would require many large grocery and drug retail stores to place extra staff at their self-checkout stations, which experts say could result in more stores moving away from self-checkout systems.

Smallwood-Cuevas introduced the bill in response to retailers voicing concerns about shrinkage. The bill aims to reduce retail theft while adding jobs and protecting workers along with shoppers.

Grocery store owners argue this is an attempt to force retailers to hire extra employees, which will lead to higher food prices.

The bill would prohibit grocery and retail drug stores from offering self-checkout services unless employees monitor no more than two self-checkout stations at a time and are relieved from all other duties while working with self-checkout stations. 

Additionally, stores would need to limit self-checkout lanes to purchases of 10 or fewer items. Stores would also need to prohibit customers from using self-checkout to purchase items that require identification, such as alcohol, and items with surveillance tags and other theft-deterrent measures. 

Furthermore, stores would need to make at least one manual checkout station available when self-service is offered. The bill would also require stores to complete a worker and consumer impact assessment before implementing certain technologies, including ones that use artificial intelligence.


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Caution, be careful who you vote for. Elect the wrong people and you get union shills like Lola Smallwood-Cuevas.

Union bullshit. I bought 3 items at the Food 4 Less at 7:15 am. I was the only customer at the 5 station self-checkout with one employee supervising. Now 3 employees for one customer?

What might happen is a dramatic shift in hours, you will not longer be able to shop at 7:15a because they wont open until 9 or 10a and no more late night trips because they will close at 7 or 8p, end result more people losing their jobs.

Here’s a revolutionary idea: Make theft an actual crime again. When it hurts someone more to steal, than to be honest, crime goes down. It works everywhere it’s tried.

Big retail has already come to the conclusion that automated check-out is losing them money as well as customer approval. Chains such as Walmart, Target and Dollar General are in the process of curtailing such machines. Not only is theft a problem, but Walmart, which does a ton of research about its customers, has determined self checkout is simply not popular.

If that is Walmart’s decision then it’s Walmart’s decision, not yours.

Let’s not kid ourselves, this is not about theft. This is the government trying to make sure employers can’t do without those minimum wage employees.

Typical California, bunch of scumbag politicians driving inflation and making life more inconvenient.

I have a few questions about this bill. First why large grocery and drug stores? What about hardware, clothing, discount, office supply, auto parts, sporting, dispensaries and so on. They are all subject to theft.

Second why is the Senate trying to dictate how to run a business? If California was a business, it would be in bankruptcy. Or is this just a way to over inflate the labor market and keep unemployment down?

Not to worry I’m sure there will be carve outs for special groups, just like Panera got on the minimum wage law, of course it had nothing to do with the Panera owner giving large sums of cash, i mean donations, to Governor Newsom.

Looks like the unions are calling in some of their “donations”, they bought their politicians and are now are looking for a ROI.

Stealing has been around long before self checkout lanes came around. The only thing that’s changed to make theft occur more often in california is lowering the criminal penalties for theft. It’s unlikely that this bill would do anything to deter criminals when they know the criminal punishment is very minimal if anything at all.

If it’s not a problem, then why is Walmart claiming that “shrink” (theft of items) is a major reason they are eliminating many of their self checkout machines?

See article:

Another study I read said that even honest customers are several times more likely to inadvertently take an unpaid for item when using self checkout.

But, I get it, you’d rather see us pay more money for jails and prisons than for private business to take care of their own problems by hiring enough employees so they don’t get ripped off.

When policies and or laws are created that enable criminal behavior you should expect more criminal behavior not less. Criminals will not care if the store they are stealing from has a self checkout lane or a register with a cashier they will still steal either way. I guarantee you walmarts in other states with stricter theft laws do not have this issue. I’m guessing that is why there is bi partisan support in ca right now to reform prop 47 and put it on the ballot to make laws more stricter.