June 20, 2024

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M&S chair: Self-checkout encourages shoplifting among middle-class

2 min read

The uptick in retail theft has become a multi-million dollar headache among British retailers, as they scramble to bolster security measures and “love-bomb” their shoppers with great customer service to deter the growing phenomenon. 

Self-checkout counters at such stores can be especially tricky to oversee as customers are responsible for scanning their own products, making it easier for shoplifters to steal items. 

Retail giant Marks & Spencer has witnessed this in its self-service stations—especially among middle-class shoppers, the chain’s chairman Archie Norman said.    

“Some of this shoplifting is gangs… then you got the middle class,” he said in the Money with David Buik and Michael Wilson podcast, released Monday. 

“With the reduction of service you get in a lot of shops, a lot of people think ‘well, this didn’t scan properly, or it’s very difficult to scan these things through and I shop here all the time. It’s not my fault, I’m owed it.’ You see it with the self-checkouts.” 

Self-service counters make up an important part of M&S’s plans as it aims to trim costs by £400 million in five years. The company rolled out hundreds of such tills earlier this year as part of the effort.

While the U.K. is seeing a surge in shoplifting cases, the M&S chair noted that it was more than a store- or country-specific problem. 

“Nobody quite understands why this has happened, but shoplifting has become a global problem. We’re seeing this rise,” Norman said. “It’s too easy to say it’s a cost-of-living problem.”

Britain has seen cost-of-living and food prices surge in recent years, making it harder for people to make ends meet and pushing them to adopt extreme measures to cope with the harsh economic conditions.

Norman’s comments underline the trouble U.K. retailers face as shoplifters find sophisticated ways to steal from grocery and other retail stores. In a report earlier this year,…

Prarthana Prakash

2023-11-21 07:26:43

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