Cookies at Which? We use cookies to help improve our sites. If you continue, we'll assume that you're happy to accept our cookies. Find out more about cookies

Britons admit to stealing at self-scan tills

Self scanners costing stores billions, says report
A man carrying a shopping basket in a supermarket

Stock up on baby essentials at your local supermarket

The equivalent of 2 million Britons admit stealing goods when using supermarket ‘self-scan’ checkouts in the past year, a survey said today.

The poll for security company G4S found 7% of adults said they had failed to scan the barcode of an item when using the self-service facilities.

The company calculated that the ‘self-scan scam’ is costing supermarkets hundreds of millions of pounds a year.


Customers who eat and drink items in shops without paying – known as ‘grazers’ – are also costing stores an estimated £207 million a year.

£207 million

Estimated cost of ‘grazers’ who eat items without paying

The poll found 8% of Brits admitted failing to pay for consumed items when they reached the checkout.

Almost one in ten questioned for the survey (9%) admitted shoplifting in the last 12 months, stealing a total of more than £747 million worth of goods.


G4S’s Douglas Greenwell said: ‘While retailers will be pleased that shoppers are taking advantage of these new self-service technologies, this survey shows that they’ll have to address this new threat from self-service scamming.

‘It would be a shame if self-service checkouts were removed because they are abused by those who think they can get away without paying.’

He added: ‘We are seeing an increasing number of shopping baskets littered with empty wrappers or half eaten bunches of grapes. This ‘grazing’ is a form of theft and costs the retail industry millions of pounds in lost revenue each year…Shoplifting is still wrongly perceived as a victimless crime.’

Regional difference

People living in the Greater London region are the mostly likely to participate in a ‘self-scan scam’ with 12% admitting the act, amounting to 467,000 people.

People living in Scotland are the least likely, with 4% or 119,000 people.

Research company TNS conducted an online survey of 1,000 Britons aged 16 to 64.

G4S was unable to put a figure on the cost of self scan scams, but estimated it was higher than losses due to grazing as the scammers tended to steal higher value items.

©The Press Association, All Rights Reserved

Back to top