Safeway removes self-checkout kiosks from some Bay Area stores

Shoppers at some Bay Area Safeway stores will no longer have the option to use self-checkout kiosks.

The grocery chain confirmed to KTVU that it's getting rid of the self-checkout machines at several stores, although they wouldn't specify which ones.

Safeway officials said they're removing the kiosks because of problems with theft – too many customers steal items when they go through the self-checkout. 

"Operational changes have been made at select stores throughout the Bay Area given the increasing amount of theft," according to Safeway's statement. "Self-checkout kiosks have been removed at a few stores.  Like other local businesses, we are working on ways to curtail escalating theft so we can ensure the well-being of our employees and foster a welcoming environment for our customers."

The Safeway on Pleasant Valley Road in Oakland removed them earlier this month. 

There's just a big empty space where the self-checkout kiosks used to be.

There are also marks on the floor where the machines used to sit.

In their place is a display of soda cans.

And this store isn't the only one.

Retail experts said Safeway likely looked at the data on the amount of theft at those stores, and did the calculations. 

"You have to take out the self-checkouts because you can't make money," said Patrick Penfield, Syracuse University professor of practices and supply chain management. "This is a real conundrum for these retailers trying to offer the best customer service, the best customer satisfaction, but still trying to make money."

As of Monday, the Safeway store on Grand Avenue and College Avenue, both in Oakland, still had the self-checkout machines.

But certain Safeway stores in San Francisco and Emeryville also have had the self-checkouts removed.

Some customers were disappointed about the change.

"With more people coming in," Ray Stewart of Oakland said, "it's going to be a problem. There's going to be longer lines at the checkout." 

Meanwhile, a California lawmaker is pushing to crack down on self-checkout kiosks, noting that they are essentially a freeway to theft.

Se. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D-Los Angeles) said the kiosks cause about 16 times more loss than cashier checkout stands with a $10 billion annual loss attributed to the machines.

She introduced legislation that sets a minimum staffing level of one worker for every two self-checkout machines. She believes that this measure would reduce theft and save jobs.

"Lone workers have become easy targets of theft and violence and they're too often forced to stock merchandise, operate checkout, cater to customers, all while trying to monitor their stores for retail theft," she told KTVU earlier this month.