Dollar General is nixing self-checkout at stores to stop theft

Dollar General plans to open about 800 new stores, remodel 1,500, and relocate 85.

Dollar General plans to open about 800 new stores, remodel 1,500, and relocate 85.
Image: Jonathan Weiss (Shutterstock)

Dollar General is planning to remove self-checkout kiosks for 300 of its stores — and it’s using artificial intelligence to do it.

The discount retailer said Thursday that it has been working for months with IT services company Everseen to identify stores where people are using self-checkout kiosks to steal products. The company’s platform uses AI to detect theft. Tedd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO, told investors during the company’s earnings call Thursday that the “decisive action” is “based on month’s of AI activity data.”

The retailer’s removal of self-checkout kiosks is its way of weeding out locations where people are using them to steal the most product, Vasos said. The product theft, or “shrink” in industry parlance, appears to be “purposeful” at times, but inadvertent at others.

In addition to eliminating self-checkout registers at 300 stores with the highest levels of “shrink,” Dollar General wants employees to “assist” in the self-checkout process — effectively monitoring what items customers are buying when they do use the terminals. And at locations where self-checkout registers remain, Dollar General plans on limiting scanning to five items.

Vasos shared the changes after Dollar General reported earnings that beat Wall Street expectations and also said it plans to open hundreds of new stores. The company said it will open 800 new locations, remodel 1,500 and relocate 85.

The retailer still faces an uphill battle as it looks to bring back workers in the midst of numerous worker safety related penalties. In December, the company said it would spend an additional $50 million on its labor force, bringing its total labor investment to about $150 million.

Dollar General stock was initially up after it beat earnings expectations but was trading down 5% Thursday afternoon.

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