Foodstuffs North Island is undertaking a trial of facial recognition technology at some stores following a significant rise in serious retail crime in supermarkets.
The New Zealand cooperative has reported serious incidents, theft, burglary, robbery, assault and other aggressive, violent and threatening behaviour in its stores this year are up 31% on 2021 and serious incidents in stores are up 246% since 2020. Of 9,700 offenders this year, nearly 2,500 are likely to be repeat offenders.
“Supermarkets are on the frontline of the rising trend of retail crime with our teams dealing with daily incidents of assault, aggression and theft,” says Foodstuffs North Island CEO Chris Quin.
“This is the concerning reality for our teams as the number of incidents in grocery stores has risen significantly since early 2020 to record levels this year.”
Foodstuffs North Island is a cooperative of more than 320 local grocers who individually own and operate New World, PAK’nSAVE, Gilmours and Four Square stores in communities around the North Island, employing over 24,000 people.
In an attempt to proactively reduce serious incidents in stores and meet its safety responsibilities to customers and team, Foodstuffs North Island is trialling facial recognition technology across a limited number of stores.
In Australia, Kmart, Bunnings and the Good Guys came under fire earlier this year after consumer watchdog CHOICE revealed the retailers were using the controversial technology.
A nationally representative survey conducted by CHOICE between March and April 2022 found that three in four Australians agreed regulation is needed to protect consumers from harms caused by facial recognition use in retail settings.