£3.2bn worth of items stolen through self-service checkouts annually, poll shows


A study in 2014 discovered that Britons steal over £1.3bn from supermarkets via self-scan each year, and an updated study this year has revealed this number has shot up to £3.2bn with almost one quarter of Britons confessing to having sticky fingers when not being at the checkout. According to the poll, the Briton now steals £23 worth of products a month, which is £5 more a month than they were stealing in 2014. 

Toiletries, fruit & veg and even dairy items are the most commonly stolen from supermarkets each year, Britons have confessed – with as many as 23% having stolen from supermarkets at least once, totalling £3.2bn a year.

The team at www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk conducted a study in 2014 looking into the cost of thefts in supermarkets, and decided to redo the survey in 2017 to see how attitudes towards self-service checkouts have changed in the last three years. 2,532 Britons aged 18 and over, all of whom revealed to researchers that they had used a self-service checkout at least once, were quizzed for the purpose of the latest study. All respondents were spread equally across the 12 regions of the UK.

Initially, when participants asked ‘Have you ever stolen items from a supermarket via the self-service checkouts?’ to which almost one quarter of respondents (23%) admitted that ‘yes’ they have. Wanting to find out why it was Britons would steal from self-service machines, they were asked to explain their reasoning behind their impulse. Respondents were provided with a list of possible responses and asked to select all answers that applied, with the top five emerging as the most common reasons why:

  1. The item wouldn’t scan or register – 62%
  2. I knew I could get away with it – 40%
  3. I forgot to scan an item – 36%
  4. I didn’t have enough money at the time – 18%
  5. I didn’t realise the item hadn’t scanned at the time – 11%

What’s more, of those who said they have never stolen anything via self-service checkouts, the majority (62%) confessed that they only haven’t tried to take anything without paying because they’re worried about getting caught and the consequences that would follow.

Those who have stolen from a self-service checkout in the past were asked to list which items they had taken without paying for, with toiletries topping the list (59%), followed by fruit/vegetables (48%), dairy items (43%) and confectionary (37%).

Of the respondents who admitted they’ve stolen items using self-service checkouts before, 46% claimed that they do this on a regular basis. These participants were asked to estimate how much they believed the items they stole each month cost as well as the region in which they lived to determine regional averages. The average cost per month of stolen goods was revealed as £23, with the regional averages emerging as follows:

  1. North West – £33 (average monthly total of items stolen from a supermarket)
  2. South West – £31
  3. Scotland – £29
  4. Wales – £29
  5. Northern Ireland – £27
  6. London – £24
  7. Yorkshire & The Humber – £22
  8. South East – £18
  9. East Midlands – £17
  10. North East – £16
  11. West Midlands – £15
  12. East of England – £14

Much like the data collected in 2014, the team at VoucherCodesPro.co.uk used these results to estimate just how much is stolen annually through self-service checkouts around the UK. With approximately 50,909,098 million Britons in the UK aged 18 and over*, and with almost one quarter of Britons confessing to stealing £276 worth of products per year, this means that as much as £3,231,709,093 worth of products are stolen around the UK in this way each year.

George Charles, spokesperson for VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, made the following comments:“Self-service checkouts are amazing. It’s great to see how far technology has come and, if you don’t want to have to deal with an overly cheerful sales assistant, they are a blessing. However, the issue is that without workers patrolling the area, it would seem people cannot be trusted to behave themselves.

“The amount stolen annually has skyrocketed since 2014, from £1.3 billion to over £3.2 billion. The economy may not be in top shape currently and money may be tight, but that is no excuse to start stealing your weekly shop instead of paying for it. Stores may want to reconsider just how many store assistants they have manning their self-service stations.”