ALDI staff are being forced to search shoppers’ empty bags following a huge rise in theft amid the cost of living crisis.
The budget supermarket is asking cashiers to rummage through customers’ ‘bags for life’ before they can begin scanning their shopping.
Checkout operators must then flag anything they find hidden inside and place it on the checkout.
But some staff have complained that they feel “uncomfortable” confronting people at the till.
One Aldi employee in Surrey said: “It’s a new rule that’s been brought in for some areas in the country and we really don’t like it.
“We have to ask everyone to hand over their empty shopping bags before we can start scanning.
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“Most people have reacted with confusion, but when we explain the reason why, they’re okay with it.
“Others have got quite indignant about it though, and it makes us feel uncomfortable.
"It feels like you're accusing everyone of being a shoplifter."
She added: “The trouble is, people have begun stealing full bags of shopping now and hiding them under their trolley.
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“The cost of food is already so high but the cost of these thefts is also being added onto everyone’s food bills too.
“It’s a horrible 'Catch 22' situation.”
Last week, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride denied suggestions that the cost of basic groceries will be capped by the government.
It comes as food inflation sits at an eye-watering 15.4 per cent.
This is running close to the highest rate for more than 45 years.
An Aldi insider said bags checks are carried out with the consent of shoppers – and only in some stores as a short-term measure.
They added that the searches are only carried out with customers' shopping bags, not personal bags and belongings.
An official Aldi spokesperson said: “From time to time, our stores will conduct checks on customers’ shopping bags with their consent.
“This is a short-term measure some stores may use and we are grateful to our customers for their co-operation.”
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