Coles is introducing a new rule to their self-serve checkouts.

Coles has announced strict new self-serve checkout rules. From now on self-serve checkouts will be restricted to customers purchasing 12 items or less.

A Coles spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph the change is a “trial” that will allow for a faster buying experience for shoppers only purchasing a few items.

“We have found customers with small baskets can generally complete their shopping faster by using self-scanning check-outs,” they said.

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The change, announced by the supermarket giant this week, means customers purchasing more than 12 items will now have to line up at the “belted” staffed lanes.

Late last year Coles in conjunction with the NSW police announced measures to kerb shoplifting and underscanning, with research showing theft at self-serve checkouts is a regular occurrence. In a press conference held outside a Coles store in inner-Sydney, Superintendent Chapman said they’d received over 22,000 reports of shoplifting in NSW, with over half of those resulting in criminal proceedings.

Coles also announced improved technology for self-serve checkouts as well as regular supervision of the areas.

Market research company CanStar Blue, in conjunction with the Herald Sun, found younger shoppers were more likely to use self-serve to steal, with one in six admitting to not paying for an item at the self-serve checkout.

Coles has announced self-serve checkouts for 12 items or less customers only. Image: iStock

It's been an expensive exercise for Coles who were the first supermarket in Australia to introduce self-serve checkouts, aimed at reducing staff costs. However the cost of theft at self-serve supermarkets is estimated to be around $4.5 billion per year, according to the National Retail Association.

Queensland University of Technology Professor Larry Neale told the ABC self-service technology made stealing psychologically easier as they distanced customers from the victim.

"Self-serve checkouts provide that distance between you and the organisation or an identifiable victim," but he also said supermarkets do absorb more of the risk due to the money they are saving on staff.