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Target Is Adding New Restrictions to Self-Checkout at 2,000 Stores, Starting Sunday

The retailer plans to make major changes to its checkout process nationwide.

The fall of self-checkout seems to be happening before our eyes. Amid a significant rise in theft and pushback from shoppers, major retailers like Walmart, Dollar General, and Kroger have been pulling self-service kiosks from stores and putting more employees back behind registers. Now, Target is set to add additional restrictions to self-checkout that could send more customers straight to cashiers. Read on to find out more about the new limit Target is putting on self-checkout, starting Sunday.

RELATED: Walmart Shoppers Threaten Boycott Over Self-Checkout Policy.

Target started testing self-checkout limits last fall.

Self Checkout and Cash Registers area in a Target store in south San Francisco bay area

Back in October, it was revealed that several Target locations in Maine had started restricting self-checkout lanes to 10 items or fewer. A Best Life reporter also noted at the time that they had seen the same limits at a store in New Jersey.

A Target spokesperson confirmed to Coupons in the News that the company was imposing limits at some of its stores.

"At select locations we are testing self-checkout lanes of 10 items or fewer in order to reduce wait times and better understand guest preferences," the spokesperson said.

A March 14 press release from Target explained that this was a test initiated by the company at about 200 stores near the end of 2023. According to the release, these changes were part of a pilot run for their Express Self-Checkout concept.

RELATED: Sam's Club Slammed for "Ridiculous" Self-Checkout Policy.

The retailer is now making this change to stores nationwide.

 An unmanned self checkout machine waits for customers inside of a Target retail store

Target is ready to move past its testing phase. In the new release, the retailer revealed that it would soon be limiting shoppers' ability to use self-checkout. Starting March 17, Target will be "rolling out Express Self-Checkout with limits of 10 items or fewer at most of [its] nearly 2,000 stores nationwide."

Alongside this new change, Target is planning to open "more traditional lanes" that will be staffed by team members for shoppers who are checking out with more than 10 items.

"We're also continuing to invest in additional training to ensure that our teams can continue to provide great guest service during the checkout," the retailer stated in its release.

RELATED: Walmart Worker Issues Warning to Shoppers About Self-Checkout.

Target employees will also be able to limit self-checkout hours.

Cash Registers area in a Target store in south San Francisco bay area

Even if you have 10 items or fewer, you might still find yourself unable to use Target's self-checkouts.

Last month, it was reported that the retailer had started slashing the hours of operation for self-checkout lanes at some stores. Now, Target has confirmed that this practice will continue on a store-by-store basis.

"Store leaders have the flexibility to open more lanes staffed by team members and set self-checkout hours that are right for their store," Target explained in its recent release. "While the hours of operation may vary based on store needs, Express Self-Checkout will be available during the busiest shopping times."

The retailer thinks these restrictions should speed up checkout times.

Wide view of people using the self checkout counters inside a Target retail store.

Target is hoping the new limits will enhance the checkout experience for its customers. As the retailer explained, self-checkout was the preferred option during the pandemic because it was contactless. But the company says that "ease and convenience are top of mind" for guests today.

Through its test last fall, Target found that "self-checkout was twice as fast" at the stores where there was a limit of 10 items or fewer. They also noted that the customers they surveyed said they had a better overall checkout experience when there was "the option to pick self-checkout for a quick trip, or a traditional, staffed lane when their cart is full."

"At Target, we're always listening to our guests so we can deliver a joyful and convenient shopping experience," the retailer stated. "Checking out is one of the most important moments of the Target run, and we know that a fast, easy experience—whether at self-checkout or the lanes staffed by our friendly team members—is critical to getting guests on their way quickly."

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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