Walmart shopper speculates store is 'turning off' self-checkouts to get customers to do this one thing

@lgbtavenger/TikTok The Toidi/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘They can do this but not have apple pay????’: Walmart shopper speculates store is ‘turning off’ self-checkouts to get customers to do this one thing

'I think you're onto something.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Feb 18, 2024   Updated on Feb 18, 2024, 10:23 am CST

A woman went viral for her theory as to why Walmart is “turning off” its self-checkouts.

TikToker @lgbtavenger’s theory is that Walmart is intentionally making the checkout experience a miserable ordeal for its customers as means of herding them into signing up for Walmart Plus, the store’s premium subscription service. Her video was viewed over 318,000 times.

She begins her video by speaking directly into the camera. “Do you guys want to hear my Walmart conspiracy theory?” she asks.

“They’re not turning off the self-checkouts because people are stealing. They’re turning off the self checkouts because they want everyone to sign up for Walmart Plus,” she starts. “They’re not going to put more cashiers there. They want the lines to be wrapped around the store out the door, and do you know why? Because with the paid membership to Walmart Plus you get scan and go, which means you get to scan your groceries, pay for it on your phone, and walk out the door.”

Walmart confirms on its site that Scan & Go is only available to its Walmart Plus members. To use it, Walmart Plus customers have to have the app that they can use to scan their items as they shop. According to Walmart, these customers have to tap “check out” before heading to a self-checkout register, where they don’t have to rescan their groceries but get to use a QR code. “Check out fast at self-checkout without having to rescan each item,” Walmart’s site promises. While @lgbtavenger’s claim that customers will get to pay on their phone and leave the store is incorrect, it is supposed to make the check-out process more efficient. The feature is also available at the store’s sister franchise, bulk retailer Sam’s Club, as well. However, at Sam’s Club, customers who use it do not have to wait in line.

“They are literally pulling cashiers and closing down the self checkouts because they want to create a situation where everybody has the $12.99 a month Walmart+ subscription so they can avoid standing in lines. That way they save on labor and you pay a subscription service that they can make a lot of money on,” she continues.

She then crunches some numbers to show just how profitable this could be for Walmart. “Globally, Walmart gets 37 million customers a day. If only 10% of them sign up for Walmart Plus, baby, psshhhhh, millions of dollars a month just for a service that is basically free for them to provide. [This is] what’s gonna keep happening they’re gonna keep not having cashiers—they’re gonna keep closing down self checkout. They’re gonna keep pushing Walmart Plus, because they know once you get [on] that subscription service model, you’re probably not gonna cancel it ’cause it’s too convenient,” she says.

@lgbtavenger Im so dead serious, the subscription service model is killing us #walmart #walmartfinds ♬ original sound – Lgbtavenger

According to Statista, Walmart serves around 240 million customers a week, which is roughly 34 million every single day. There are a variety of different pricing plans for Walmart Plus. Customers can try it out for free and then either pay $12.95 for a month-to-month membership or $98 per year for the yearly membership. The site also claims that SNAP and WIC customers can get a 50% discount off of the service, indicating the retailer is claiming taxpayer dollars for those who subscribe. In addition to Scan & Go, Walmart Plus customers can enjoy unlimited free groceries deliveries with no order minimum, free shipping for online orders, free flat tire repair at Walmarts with auto departments, and a Paramount+ subscription.

Walmart has invested a lot of money into its anti-theft efforts at checkout, some of which have been aired out and discussed by employees of the chain in viral TikToks. Walmart has decided to close down several of its stores due to “rampant theft,” and Business Insider reported that the retailer loses an estimated $3 billion annually due to customer and worker theft.

TikTokers who responded to @lgbtavenger’s post didn’t seem too happy about her theory surrounding Walmart Plus subscriptions. “WHY DOES EVERYTHING NEED A SUBSCRIPTION?????” one person asked.

Someone else said they would more than likely refrain from getting a Walmart Plus subscription out of spite. “I’m so stubborn, I would rather stand in line for 2+ hours than pay for another subscription,” they shared.

Another user thought it was interesting that Walmart would allegedly go through such great lengths to push more folks toward its premium subscription offerings but be slow-on-the-draw when it comes to other amenities for shoppers, like mobile payments. “They can do this but not have apple pay????” another questioned.

According to someone who claims to have insider Walmart knowledge, the TikToker’s suppositions aren’t conspiracy theories. “I used to work for Walmart… manager literally said this to me verbatim when they first rolled out Walmart+” they shared.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Walmart via email and @lgbtavenger via TikTok comment for further information.

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*First Published: Feb 18, 2024, 1:00 pm CST