Customers using the self-checkout at a handful of Loblaw-owned stores in Ontario are being asked to scan their receipts to exit the store, a new pilot project aimed at curbing grocery theft, the company says.

In a statement to CP24.com, a Loblaw spokesperson confirmed that the receipt scanners were installed at four stores in the province in Windsor, Woodstock, Oakville, and Georgetown.

“Organized retail crime across the entire industry is a very serious issue, and has only gotten worse. It’s having an impact on prices and safety. To protect customers and colleagues, we’re always looking at different ways to stop this theft. This pilot is a part of these efforts,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The pilot, they said, is a “small trial” that aims to determine the “effectiveness” of such anti-theft measures.

While receipt checks are common at some retailers, including Costco, Loblaw faced significant backlash when the grocer implemented the practice at some Loblaw-owned stores last summer.

Customers took to social media to speak out against the move, posting photos of signs that had popped up at stores warning customers of receipt checks.

“We are working hard to balance a need for enhanced security while at the same time preserving a welcoming and convenient customer experience,” the Loblaw spokesperson said of the new receipt scanners.

“We welcome our customers’ input and as always, appreciate their understanding.”

Retail analyst Bruce Winder said companies around the world are trying different things to reduce theft.

“If you look at Walmart, they put greeters in place and one of the reasons is that really significantly reduced shoplifting by knowing someone is there,” he said.

“So companies are trying different things right now to see what works and what preserves customer relationships.”

But it appears many customers are not in favour of receipt checks, he added.

“Consumer sentiment has not been positive,” he said. “There has been a lot of folks taking to social media to sort of talk about how they are not really in favour of this.” 

 

One of the receipt scanners installed at a Zehr’s store in Woodstock, Ont. was covered up when CTV News visited the premise on Thursday.

However, when asked if Loblaw was reconsidering the pilot a spokesperson for the company told CP24 that was not the case.

“Sometimes they’re turned off temporarily, allowing us to adjust the equipment and the processes as we learn, which is why it’s a pilot,” they said.

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