Advertisement

A whopping one-third of Gen-Z shoppers admit they prefer self-checkout kiosks — so they can shoplift

A whopping one-third of Gen-Z shoppers admit they prefer self-checkout kiosks — so they can shoplift

They’re serving — jail time, that is.

More than half of Gen Z shoppers prefer self-checkout lines — and would even switch their store of choice for the ease of self-serve kiosks, according to new data from Avery Dennison — but it’s not necessarily because they’re independent or introverted.

In fact, one-third of the young shoppers admitted that they shoplift while cashing out at self-check.

According to a recent LendingTree survey of 2,000 Americans, nearly half of Gen Z respondents said they steal the most expensive item from their cart, while only 37% said they would only lift necessities.

But some have said the criminal behavior is a means of vindication.

“We have so many companies that don’t care about their customers, only making money,” one sticky-fingered teen dished to Vice in 2020. At the time, there was a surge in shoplifting tips and tricks going viral online.

They added: “If we can punish the corporation, we feel we have done our best.”

Their sentiments are indicative of a larger trend, as just over half of Gen Zers were reported to feel negatively about capitalism, per a 2021 poll.

“I don’t believe that stealing from large corporations is immoral, as it detracts from systems that exploit its workers and resources for economic gain,” one 19-year-old told Dazed last year.

But as major retailers attempt to cater to the younger generation whose dollar, should they even spend it, packs a powerful punch — buyers tend to align their purchases with a brand’s mission — the introduction of self-checkout stations could pose a financial risk.

“While self-checkout is convenient, it certainly poses a risk for shoplifting,” LendingTree Chief Credit Analyst Matt Schulz told Fortune. “Ultimately, retailers need to decide whether the self-checkout terminals are worth the risk.”

Popular chains like Costco and Wegmans started to re-think the self-service machines late last year; Walmart even pulled the kiosks from three of its New Mexico locations.

According to CNN, retailers have a “shrink” problem — a loss of merchandise either from petty theft or customer error, such as ringing up the wrong kind of apple or tomato — pointing to an international study demonstrating a 4% loss rate for companies with self-checkout stands, about double the average.

“Some customers don’t know one different apple versus another, for example,” Nigel Murray, the managing director for the UK grocery chain Booths, which recently removed the kiosks from two of its locations, told the BBC.

But not all brick-and-mortar storefronts are suffering the same losses. Amazon, for instance, uses “Just Walk Out” technology to track what items customers grab from the shelf, charging them once they exit the store.

Gianna Puerini, the vice president of Amazon Go, previously told CNBC that theft occurs “so rarely,” and that, at the time, she had “yet to get an error” from the sans-cashier method. In fact, the technology could reduce the rate of shoplifting in traditional stores.

“Because Just Walk Out technology is highly accurate, it is typical for retailers to see the rate of shrink decrease after installing the technology,” Jon Jenkins, the president of Just Walk Out, told Fortune.

“In a Just Walk Out technology-enabled store, a customer who takes a product off the shelf and sticks it in their pocket is charged for the item just as if they had placed it in their shopping cart.”