Self-scanning trend on the decline in Sweden due to thefts

STOCKHOLM, March 30 (Xinhua) -- A growing number of grocery store owners in Sweden are considering to abandon self-scanning checkout in their stores due to an increase in thefts, especially of meat and meat products, local media reported on Thursday.

The overall value of stolen goods have grown by over 20 percent to 4.5 billion Swedish kronor (434 million U.S. dollars) in 2021 compared with 2018, said the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).

One of the victims of the worsening trend, a shopkeeper in the capital city of Stockholm, decided to dismantle the self-scanning points within a year of introducing the system.

"The main reason is thefts. Enormous amounts of goods leave through the back door," Ulf Svensson, who manages a store belonging to one of Sweden's biggest grocery store chains, ICA, told DN.

Theft-related losses in his shop have doubled to 9 million Swedish kronor over a year, accounting for roughly 4 percent of the annual turnover, he said. This is because customers sometimes "forget" to scan anything from plastic carrier bags to expensive goods such as meat or whitefish roe, he added.

According to Svensson, while the self-scanning system is not the only source of theft, it is a big enough facilitator to close them. Also, contrary to his expectation that the self-scanning system would allow his shop to operate with fewer staff, reality proved different.

"We have had to keep the express checkout points constantly manned to assist customers (with technical problems), so we haven't saved a single working-hour," said Svensson.

He said that although Swedish customers had been hit hard by inflation over the last year -- according to Statistics Sweden, the cost of food increased by 22.1 percent in February year-on-year -- organized crime is an even bigger problem.

Per Bygdeson, chief executive officer of Livsmedelshandlarna, a trade organization for grocery store owners, told DN that many more grocery stores are likely to follow Svensson's example in the future. (1 Swedish krona = 0.096 U.S. dollar)

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