Checking Out: How Alcohol Purchases Intervene with Automated Processes
Self-service check-out lanes at grocery and some convenience stores can make all the difference, especially for the most self-sufficient shopper. But what happens when a customer wants to purchase age-restricted products, including alcohol and tobacco, at the self-checkout?
According to an article by The Washington Post, purchases such as these trigger intervention from store employees to confirm age and ID of purchaser, and delay sufficiency of self-service lanes as clerks must enter details into the store’s point-of-sale system. Beyond delays, some authorities believe self-service options also pose threats to stores’ abilities to uphold state regulations for the lawful sale of age-sensitive products. Perform a basic Google search and you’ll read first-hand accounts of successful underage alcohol purchases.
It’s the latter reason the state of California prohibits the sale of alcohol through self-checkout lanes; customers must use traditional checkout stands operated by cashiers.1 An active petition is currently underway to change this. In the Northeast, Pennsylvania state law requires liquor sales to occur at designated registers only, which are staffed by cashiers 18-years and older.2
In Washington State, so long as a register is programmed to suspend operations when it identifies an alcohol transaction in progress and an employee of the retailer intervenes to verify the age of the purchaser, these purchases are allowed.3 Colorado state law also prohibits consumers from purchasing alcohol at a self-checkout without assistance from and completion of the entire transaction by an employee of the licensed retail location.4 One Walmart store in Fayetteville, Ark., is debunking all insufficiency notions and trialing a front-end experiment with a cluster of self-service lanes. When a shopper scans alcohol, the transaction is suspended, and roaming store clerks receive notification that an ID check is needed.
No matter if your grocery or convenience store offers self-service checkout options, you want to ensure your employees are current with all local rules and regulations associated with the sale of age-sensitive products. The BARS Program can help. Contact us at 1-877-540-5500 or visit www.barsprogram.com.
1 California Public Law, California Business and Professions Code Sec. 23394.7
2 Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, Summary of Act 39 of 2016
3 Washington State Legislature, RCW 66.24.660: Liquor sales at self-checkout registers
4 Colorado Department of Revenue, Major changes to state liquor laws go into effect starting Jan. 1