LOS ANGELES - Self-checkout machines were once invented to make shopping easier, but consumers actually find them easier for theft.
According to a recent survey from LendingTree, 15% of consumers say they have stolen items when using self-checkout machines. Another 44% say they would do it again.
69% of all shoppers say self-checkout machines make it easier to steal. Younger shoppers are also more likely to partake in thievery.
31% of GenZ shoppers and 21% of millennials have taken an item without scanning it.
Typically, stolen goods aren't anything with a hefty price tag. Overall, these stolen goods' self-reported value is roughly $60 on average.
Does stealing make you upset?
Well, nearly half of all self-checkout users say they've witnessed other shoppers using them to steal and did nothing about it.
"While self-checkout is convenient, it certainly poses a risk for shoplifting," LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulzsays. "Ultimately, retailers need to decide whether the self-checkout terminals are worth the risk. Sure, they can help the store save money because fewer people are needed to check out customers. The question, however, is whether that savings outweighs the potential uptick in theft. That’s a question lots of retailers are likely wrestling with."
Meanwhile, human cashiers could be making a comeback, as some major retailers may be reconsidering self-checkouts.
The use of self-checkout stations increased in the early 2000s as companies hoped the machines would help cut costs. But now, some experts believe that, among other issues, people are using self-checkouts to steal instead.
"What they didn’t take into account was that it could potentially impact their bottom line," explained Matt Kelley of LiveView Technologies.
For instance, Kelley said a thief may simply walk up to a self-checkout station and fool the security cameras by hiding a low-price item, like a packet of Kool-Aid, underneath a higher-priced item, like a steak.
"To the layperson, it looks like they’ve scanned the steak, the $30 steak, and they’re only scanning a $.99 packet of Kool-Aid," Kelley said, adding that negative customer experiences can be an issue with self-checkouts as well.
Walmart has already pulled self-checkout lanes from stores in a few locations, although a spokesperson said, "There are no current plans for self-checkout removals nationwide."
The National Retail Federation also weighed in, with a spokesperson saying they’re aware of retailers removing self-checkouts overseas, but in the U.S. they "have not seen compelling evidence that this is an industry-wide trend."
As for shoppers on Wednesday night in Vienna, some said they’d be fine if self-checkouts became a thing of the past. But others like Marissa Flores told FOX 5, "I would miss them. I only use self-checkouts."
FOX 5 contributed to this story.