Supermarkets lose over £486BN a year in purchases abandoned at self-scan


According to new research, Britons abandon items at self-scan because the queues are too long, they can’t get assistance from staff or they’re struggling to scan the item. As a result, supermarkets lose £486b per year.

The team at undertook the study as part of ongoing research into their shopping habits and attitudes towards technology. 2,481 Britons aged 18 and over, all of whom stated they were in control of their own weekly and monthly shopping and had used self-scan on at least one occasion, were quizzed on their experiences using retail technology whilst shopping.

Initially, all respondents were asked to identify all experiences they had had while using self-scan, to which the most common responses were ‘I come away saying that I’ll never use them again, even though I do’, ‘I tend to abandon a couple of items that I wanted to purchase’ and ‘I regularly have to get assistance from staff’. Furthermore, just 16 per cent of respondents stated they ‘sought out self-service over manned checkouts’, with a further 8 per cent stating they’ve ‘never had any problems/issues with self-scan’.

Respondents who had abandoned purchases were asked roughly how many items they had chosen to abandon per month and how much they estimated the items cost, to which the responses collated showed the average respondent ditched three items per month, totalling on average £2.34.

With the Office of National Statistics stating there are currently 50,909,098 Britons aged 18 and over in the UK, that equates to 17,309,093 Britons who find themselves regularly abandoning purchases at self-scan. With the average cost per Briton totalling £2.34 per month, that’s £40,503,277.62 in sales abandoned in supermarkets per month – or £486,039,331.44 per year in abandoned purchases and supermarket lost sales.

Chris Johnson, Head of Operations at, commented: “We’re shocked at how much supermarkets are losing on an annual basis – £486b is an immense amount of money. Yes, £2 here and there doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but add that up and what you have is a fortune that supermarkets are losing out on.

“When self-scan tills came into operation everyone was excited – it a was a new way of shopping and the plan was that they’d help to reduce queues, speed up the shopping process and help supermarkets save costs on manned tills. But it’s not often you hear of people having seamless interactions with them, with phrases such as ‘unexpected item in bagging area’ becoming the bane of our lives. Manufacturers need to continue investing money into self-scan tills in order to improve the service that they provide and prevent purchase loss at the point of sale. This will mean needing to pump more money into research and development, but in the short term it could be as simple as supermarkets having more staff on hand when self-scan gets busy to ensure shoppers having troubles get help much quicker and don’t abandon purchases.”