Target Just Rolled Out a Brand-New Rule for Self Checkout (And We Kind of Love It)

Target's bold move might just be one more reason for you to embrace self-checkout.
Updated May 10, 2024
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woman at target self checkout counter

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Target recently decided to restrict self-checkout to 10 items or fewer. The change was implemented at most of its 2,000 locations on March 17. But why the change, and, more importantly, how does it benefit shoppers?

Target's move certainly helps tackle shrinkage — the loss of inventory mainly due to theft, fraud, and human error — which, according to the National Retail Federation, cost businesses $112.1 billion in losses in 2022 alone, up from $93.9 billion in 2021. 

But this move could be great for customers too. Shoppers don't want to spend hours of their precious weekend grocery shopping. Most of us are looking for ways to save money shopping and to get it done quickly, and keeping the self-checkout line short might help with that

There are ways to curtail the struggles of shopping, and self-checkout is only one of them. Here are 13 other reasons to love self-checkout. Target's recent change might just add one more to this list.

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An introvert’s delight

Robert Peak/Adobe woman scanning products

For introverts, one of the most challenging parts of grocery shopping is dealing with small talk from patrons and cashiers. You can avoid a fair chunk of socialization by using self-checkout.

Unless you have an issue with the checkout lane, you won’t have to speak to anyone during your purchase, making it a wonderful option for those who like to keep to themselves or avoid mistakes of last-minute purchases.

Faster lines

vladdeep/Adobe woman at self-service checkout in modern supermarket take cash receipt

Another major benefit of self-checkout is that the lines may be faster. Because people in self-serve lanes have smaller hauls, they tend to move quicker and are not as meticulous about bagging as trained employees.

If you’re picking up a small grocery order, skip the hassle of a 10-minute line and make a run for self-checkout instead to save time and energy.

Cleaner stores

ColleenMichaels/Adobe self checkout kiosk inside a Whole Foods grocery store

When employees are stuck at registers during busy hours, they may not be available to help keep the store clean and organized.

With ample self-checkout options, however, only one or two employees are required for errors and surveillance. The others are free to help keep the store in tip-top shape, resulting in a better experience for you.

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Pick your bags

Dragana Gordic/Adobe young woman with a grocery cart at the parking lot

Some people are very particular about how they’d like their groceries bagged.

However, asking the cashier to switch to paper from plastic, use your reusable totes, or not pack certain items with others can make you feel bothersome.

When you use self-checkout, you have access to all the bagging options and freedoms you could ask for.

Lower prices

Satawat/Adobe Self-checkout scanner

Self-checkout often saves businesses money over time with reduced labor costs. If you think this doesn’t impact you as a shopper, think again.

If stores are able to reduce labor costs, they’re able to competitively reduce other costs, too, like the groceries themselves.

Item accountability

maroke/Adobe housewife shopping at self-checkout

Few things are more annoying than getting home, unpacking your groceries, and realizing the cashier forgot one of your bags or left an item on the belt.

With self-checkout, however, you get to be the one performing quality control. If you have a keen eye, you’ll never forget a bag or item again.

Health-conscious option

Liubomir/Adobe woman buyer in a supermarket in a hijab

If you take your health very seriously, interacting with a cashier can be nerve-wracking, watching as they touch your items, handle your money, and so on.

With self-checkout, you’re the only one touching your credit card, produce, bags, etc. You can even wipe down touch screens or keypads without feeling judged by the cashier.

Creates more space in the store

wifesun/Adobe self-checkout point in supermarket

No one likes navigating a densely packed building with a huge cart in tow, making crowded grocery stores a nightmare for many.

By removing large checkout lanes in favor of compact self-checkout options, grocery stores can reallocate that extra space back to the customers, making the store feel less crowded and overwhelming.


Mediteraneo/Adobe couple with bank card

Some items, like bug and pest treatments, personal health items, and other hygiene products, can be embarrassing to bring through a standard checkout line.

While you shouldn’t feel ashamed about any of these purchases, the privacy of self-checkout can help make these transactions feel a little less awkward.

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Accessibility features

Daisy Daisy/Adobe rear view of woman in wheelchair

In some instances, self-service can be more accessible to disabled shoppers, provided the checkout lane is designed with accessibility in mind.

More and more self-checkout counters are being built wider and lower to the ground, making them wheelchair accessible.

Many screens are also designed with high-contrast colors and automatic audio feedback, making them easier to use for visually impaired shoppers.

Multilingual options

dusanpetkovic1/Adobe man at self-service checkout

Another accessibility feature self-checkout provides is translation options. A traditional checkout line can be incredibly anxiety-inducing if you don’t speak the local language or dialect.

Thankfully, one of the leading self-checkout kiosk brands provides audio translations for as many as 240 languages and video translation for more than 40.

Price verification

lightpoet/Adobe beautiful woman holding scanner while using self checkout service at store

When stores get busy, it’s common for items to get swapped or moved around on the shelves, leading you to think they’re cheaper than they are.

Similarly, it can be hard to know what’s still on sale when discount or clearance tags aren't removed.

When going through a standard checkout line, you likely won’t see the item's price until you leave the store and check your receipt. At self-checkout, though, you see the price immediately, helping you make more informed purchases.

Learning experiences

Mediteraneo/Adobe father and son buying food

In today’s tech-driven world, it’s assumed that most people know how to use things like automated self-checkout systems. However, only around 41% of adults without a high school diploma are considered digitally literate.

For adults and children alike, self-checkout is a wonderful place to learn the basics of touch screen technology in a self-paced, familiar environment.

Bottom line

MelissaMN/Adobe self-checkout station machine at a Target store

While some aspects of grocery shopping, like crowds or prices, are unavoidable, others are within your control. Choose self-checkout to save time and make your shopping trip more convenient.

Target's move to limit the number of items you can get through self-checkout should be seen as a way to pick what you need more carefully and create a shopping experience that allows you to save even more time and money.

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Author Details

Lucy Clark Lucy Clark has considerable experience writing about real estate, as well as homes and gardens, home value, and more. She is savvy and resourceful, and she aims to ensure others can be, as well.

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