During the pandemic, Wegmans decided to make it easier for customers to avoid germs and check out quickly. Customers could use an app to “scan as they went” through the store picking up their food items. The customers loved it, but, as Wegmans put it, “Unfortunately, the losses we are experiencing prevent us from continuing to make it available in its current state.” Alyssa Lukpat and Jaewon Hang, “Wegmans Halts App for Self-Checkout Over Losses,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2022, p. B3.
Poor naive Wegmans. Our current society does not prosecute those who smash store windows and then grab anything designer in sight. Not much chance that grocery store customers would ante up for a can of Hunt’s Tomato paste they hurl into their backpacks with scanning or paying. And all without smashing any windows.
Wegmans did not give a breakout of its losses to the phone app. But the shrinkage rate in self-checkout is 4%, a loss rate that occurs as an employee stands watch over the self-check customers. With no guardrails the app, the losses must be double or triple that percetage.
People steal. And with inflation pushing 9%, they will be stealing more. Eventually the window-smashing will hit grocery stores — about the time Pop-Tarts reach designer price ranges. You have to steal $1,000 in California before anyone will even prosecute a case of theft. The great civil society is eroding. Would you sell your soul for a can of tomato paste? Apparently Wegmans shoppers are okay with that.