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‘Stupid panopticon we live in,’ says daughter after mom refused to let Walmart worker check receipt of her cheap items

SHOPPERS have grown fed up with anti-theft measures at major retailers that they claim have reshaped society as we know it. 

Within the last year, shoppers have ranted on social media about new security policies adopted by stores like Walmart, CVS, and Target. 


Walmart shoppers continue to blast anti-theft measures[/caption]


Many have griped over receipt checks that occur when leaving the store[/caption]

These businesses have pointed to raging retail theft as the driving force behind the measures, as billions continue to be lost due to shoplifting. 

In 2023, approximately $121.6 billion was lost nationwide because of theft, according to data compiled by Capital One. 

That is expected to climb in the coming years, potentially reaching $150 billion in just two years time. 

As a result, retailers have been forced to get creative to stop theft at multiple stages of the shopping experience. 

For example, not only have stores increased physical security and security cameras, many have resorted to locking up products behind plexi-glass barriers. 

Others have opted to use shopping carts with wheels that lock up when it reaches a certain barrier. 

One popular measure used at many big box businesses like Walmart has been the checking of receipts. 

This is typically done after a shopper completes their purchase using self-checkout operations. 

Before leaving the store, an employee may ask the shopper to show their receipt to check if all items were properly scanned

Shoppers have lambasted the process, claiming it adds additional time to get out of the store when things like self-checkout were first introduced to speed up the checkout process. 

Some have even gone on the claim that it has altered society. 

One shopper shared a recent receipt check experience on X that occurred during a shopping trip to Walmart with their mother.

“My mom didn’t let the walmart guy check her receipt (we didn’t get anything expensive lol) and he followed us out and started writing shit down…?” the shopper wrote

“Stupid panopticon we live in.”

In a second post, the shopper explains that typically they will comply with the request. 

Legality of receipt checks and detention

In an effort to curtail retail crime, stores are increasingly turning to receipt checks as shoppers exit.

Legally, stores can ask to see a customer’s receipts, and membership-only stores have the right to demand such checks if shoppers agreed to terms and conditions that authorize it.

Many legal professionals have weighed in and come to similar conclusions, caveating that all states do have specific laws.

Generally speaking, stores have Shopkeeper’s Privilege laws that allow them to detain a person until authorities arrive when they have reasonable suspicion that a crime, like theft, has been committed.

Declining to provide a receipt is not a reason in itself for a store to detain a customer, they must have further reason to suspect a shopper of criminal activity.

Due to the recent nature of the receipt checks, there is little concrete law on the legality of the practice, as it takes time for law to catch up with technology.

Setliff Law, P.C. claims that “there is no definitive case law specifically relating to refusal to produce a receipt for purchases.”

For stores that improperly use their Shopkeeper’s Privilege, they could face claims of false imprisonment.

“The primary law that applies to these types of wrongful detention cases is called ‘False Imprisonment’,” explained Hudson Valley local attorney Alex Mainetti.

“Of course, you’re not literally imprisoned, but you’re detained by a person who has no lawful authority to detain you and/or wrongfully detains a customer.”

It is likely that as altercations in stores over receipt checks continue, more court cases will occur giving clearer definitions and boundaries to the legality of receipt checks.

“I don’t usually refuse those kinds of things but my mom HATES it and thinks it’s a societal ill (true) so she will show them that she has a receipt and keep walking lol,” they said. 

A panopticon is a design of an institution building – such as a prison, library, or hospital – that has control built into its architecture. 

The concept is based around a circular building with a number of cells facing one single tower in the center, without any ability to interact with each other. 

The theory of panopticon has been applied to greater studies of surveillance, management, and social media. 

There has been much discussion as to whether shoppers are legally required to show their receipts when asked by store employees. 

Experts have said this can depend on what store it is, as businesses with a membership-based model typically require members to agree to policies like receipt checks when signing up. 

As many shoppers have vowed to boycott stores employing the policy or ignore it all together, legal experts still recommend complying with the request when asked.

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