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New Bill Proposes Limits on Retail Self-Checkouts

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Clear Facts

  • California Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas has introduced a new bill, SB 1446, aiming to impose restrictions on the use of self-checkouts in large retail stores such as Walmart and Target.
  • If enacted, the law would require retailers to meet five specific conditions to offer self-checkout services, including limiting its use to customers purchasing 10 or fewer items, and having at least one manual checkout station staffed at the same time.
  • The bill is faced with opposition from the California Retailers Association and the California Chamber of Commerce, arguing it would “place unnecessary restrictions on retail grocery and pharmacy stores implementing self-checkout.”

In a time when convenience and efficiency are key, self-checkout stations have become a common feature in many large retail stores. However, California Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas is presenting a proposed law that could greatly change the current situation.

On February 16, Smallwood-Cuevas introduced bill SB 1446, aiming at “self-checkout stations in large grocery and drug retail stores.” This proposed legislation has been referred to as a “self-checkout ban,” and if passed, it could impose serious restrictions on major retailers such as Walmart and Target that use these machines.

“SB 1446 will protect workers and the public by ensuring safe staffing levels at grocery and drug retail stores and regulating self-checkout machines,” the senator stated.

The bill outlines five specific conditions that stores must meet to offer self-checkout options. One significant requirement is that self-checkout can only be used by customers buying 10 or fewer items, a policy that many retailers, including Target, have already started implementing.

In addition, the proposed bill demands that certain items, including those requiring an ID check and those subject to special theft-deterrent measures, cannot be purchased at self-checkout stations.

The bill also has implications for staffing. It necessitates at least one manual checkout station, staffed by an employee, to be operational whenever self-checkout services are available.

The role of employees in overseeing self-checkout is also addressed. They are required to monitor the stations, but one employee cannot oversee more than two self-checkout lanes at once. Moreover, an employee supervising self-checkout cannot perform other duties simultaneously.

Smallwood-Cuevas and other supporters of SB 1446 argue that the rapid increase in self-checkout has contributed to a rise in theft and violence against grocery and retail store workers.

“No one wants to shop in stores staffed by machines instead of workers, [as] replacing grocery workers with automated self-checkout machines has made stores less safe for everyone,” California Labor Federation COO Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher said.

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However, the bill is not without its critics. The California Retailers Association and the California Chamber of Commerce have voiced their opposition. In a letter to Senator Smallwood-Cuevas, they expressed respectful opposition to SB 1446, arguing that it would “place unnecessary restrictions on retail grocery and pharmacy stores implementing self-checkout,” and that these restrictions are “misguided and unnecessary and will not result in reduced retail theft in stores.”

The future of self-checkout is uncertain as California considers this proposed regulation, with potential implications for retailers and customers alike. Whether the benefits of worker safety and reduced theft outweigh the convenience of self-checkout remains to be seen.

Let us know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Les k

    May 12, 2024 at 6:40 am

    Stay out of business

  2. Bubba

    May 12, 2024 at 6:54 am

    Self checkout benefits: A machine doesn’t glare at you with race-based hatred.

  3. Suzanne Bright

    May 12, 2024 at 8:01 am

    I love the self-=checkout. Before they had them, there was always a long long line at getting checked out. When you tried to do shopping early to avoid the rush and long lines, they only had ONE cashier. Instead of limiting (and more control over people – none of their business how I want to check out), self – checkout, how about requiring more cashiers. Too much government in people’s lives. Job security? How about concentrating on a better economy?

  4. SAMSON

    May 12, 2024 at 8:05 am

    I hope they get rid of all those automated self checkouts. Don’t like them, they don’t work like they’re supposed to, and they take twice as long to check out. Let’s get back to the way things used to be. I agree government should stay out of it but the customer should not use those Lanes to show the retailers that we don’t like them.

  5. Robert Cymraeg

    May 12, 2024 at 8:17 am

    Personally I dislike self checkouts and will not use them. They are a ploy to reduce staffing costs and lead to frustration. I believe that most of the bills points are good and for once I actually support a California legislation. I believe that they have reduced lines and for that reason agree with the 10 item limit and actually retaining the self checkouts. In a world of dehumanisation all self checkouts just add to it. BTW if you cannot deal with what you perceive as prejudiced comments and glances you need to grow a thicker skin. I deal with that all the time.

  6. Rick

    May 12, 2024 at 8:28 am

    This is the decision of the business owner. Government has no right to interfere. This is not a safety issue.

    • Kaiser

      May 12, 2024 at 8:37 am

      agreed rick

  7. Beverly Nespal

    May 12, 2024 at 9:58 am

    I agree Rick! California should not mandate the whole country.

  8. J

    May 13, 2024 at 12:14 pm

    The only place we do self check out is wal-mart. It usually is ok. I think the biggest reason stores do this is because they can’t find enough employees to work.

  9. Kurt

    May 13, 2024 at 1:17 pm

    I do not use self-checkout, but I do not feel the Government should dictate to a vendor how they serve their customers.

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