Target, Walmart and Dollar General set new restrictions on self-checkout – Orange County Register

Target is adjusting its self-checkout route starting Sunday, March 17. The retailer is limiting shoppers to 10 or fewer items at self-checkout registers. (Photo by Helen Richardson/The Denver Post)

Target is the latest retailer to adjust its self-checkout route after going all-in “contactless” during the pandemic.

Starting Sunday, the red-dot retailer will limit shoppers to 10 or fewer items at self-checkout registers.

Target promises to open more traditional cashiers with employees staffing the registers.

See also: Dollar Tree closes nearly 1,000 stores

The news comes as retailers across the US deal with inventory theft, called “shrinkage” in industry parlance, at self-checkout registers.

Walmart said earlier this week that it would shift some self-checkout stations to only certain members, specifically delivery drivers and Walmart+ subscribers.

Dollar General, reeling from the downturn, is eliminating nearly all self-checkout stations in its stores.

Related: Walmart, Target is pushing a new campaign against shoplifting in California

The retailer is eliminating self-checkout stations at more than 300 locations with the highest shrinkage rates, and converting others at 9,000 stores to employee-assisted stations. At the remaining self-checkout stores, shoppers will be limited to five items or fewer.

“We are moving with a sense of urgency,” CEO Todd Vassos said on a call with analysts Thursday. The company said it will remove up to 1,000 items from Dollar General stores to streamline operations.

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Dollar General said gross margins declined during the fourth quarter compared to last year due to higher shrinkage, increased write-offs and higher sales in consumables that generate lower profits overall.

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Home Depot is committed to big-city stores

Home Depot is sticking with major U.S. cities including Oakland, Detroit and Philadelphia, where rampant retail theft has driven out competitors, CEO Ted Decker said.

The home improvement retailer, which has invested heavily in technology to prevent organized retail crime, saw a noticeable increase in theft about five years ago, Decker said. In 2023, the company saw more than 142,000 contract cases, which include petty crime, merchandise stolen or lost by employees, and organized retail crime.

In one case last year, a former Florida pastor was accused of running an organized crime ring that stole at least $1.4 million in home improvement merchandise from Home Depot.

“These are billions of dollars that we had to absorb into our cost structure,” Decker said in an interview in Las Vegas. “This is the result of very serious societal problems.”

Because of Home Depot's level of profitability, it has chosen to stay in cities where other major retailers have closed stores, Decker said. In Auckland, for example, restaurant chains including Yum! Brands Inc.'s Taco Bell and In-N-Out, as well as Target Corp., have closed their locations in recent months as a result of rising crime rates.

But when Home Depot launched a plan last year to open 80 new stores over five years, widespread thefts eliminated some of the cities it had identified for new locations. Decker said the decision was intended to prevent losses and potential threats to employee safety.

Staff writer Samantha Gwen contributed to this report.

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