Why Doesn’t Hobby Lobby Use Barcodes? (Why Are The Lines So Long + More)

Hobby Lobby is one of the most popular arts and crafts retailers in the country because the company has focused its entire business model around it.

However, barcode scanners aren’t used at checkout, and have opted to keep the process manual. If you’re wondering why this is the case, read this article!

Why Doesn’t Hobby Lobby Use Barcodes In 2024?

Hobby Lobby doesn’t use barcode scanners at checkout, and has put out a statement addressing the question that the company doesn’t think scanners are right for the business in 2024. One popular theory speculates that Hobby Lobby is avoiding them due to religious reasons, viewing barcodes as “the mark of the beast.”

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the barcode policy at Hobby Lobby, including how it affects the lines at checkout, how the company keeps track of items without scanners, and more!

Why Are the Lines at Hobby Lobby So Long?

If you’ve ever been in a checkout line at a busy Hobby Lobby store, you might have noticed that it’s long and moves significantly slower than the lines at other retailers.

This is because workers scan items manually, as opposed to using barcode scanners at the registers.

Despite the rest of the retail industry adopting the technology, Hobby Lobby has refused to take it up.

According to the company, its official position was stated in a comment by one of the company representatives, saying:

“We continue to look at and review the option of scanning at the registers, but do not feel it is right for us at this time.”

Founder and CEO David Green has said that this is in line with the company’s policy of putting people above everything else in the business.

According to his book, More Than a Hobby, David Green says that barcodes toss people to the side in favor of computers and:

“The computer won’t know if products are broken or stolen… It blithely goes on telling the staff they have such-and-such, when in fact they don’t.”

However, some people do not buy this explanation and have come up with some theories as to why the company continues to use an outdated method for such a large chain.

One of the most popular theories is that the company’s owners have rejected barcodes because they’re fundamentalist Christians who believe that they are “the mark of the beast.”

This concept refers to a mark mentioned in the Bible that is supposed to be tied to one’s ability to buy and sell items, which is why people associate it with barcodes.

Another one suspects that the policy is intended to keep profits within the company by making it easier for items that were marked down to be rung up at the original price during checkout.

Either way, this policy has had several negative impacts on the operations at the store.

Apart from the slow moving long lines at the registers, it also makes it easier for people to swap tags on similar items and pay less.

According to shoplifter forums, for example, if you’re looking at two different brands of paint where one is more expensive than the other, you can change out the tags.

When you go to the register, the cashier wouldn’t notice the difference because they’re likely only to know that the SKU refers to paint of some kind.

How Do I Find Out If Something Is in Stock at Hobby Lobby?

How Do I Find Out If Something Is in Stock at Hobby Lobby?

Since Hobby Lobby doesn’t use barcode scanners to track inventory, the only way that employees can know if something is in stock is by manually keeping count of items as they move through the stores.

For customers, unless you’re at one of the physical locations or on the company website, you would need to call ahead and ask for someone at a store to check their inventory.

How Many SKUs Does Hobby Lobby Have?

Hobby Lobby stated that the company has 70,000 items it sells regularly, so you can expect the company to have the same number of SKUs.

A SKU (or stock keeping unit) is a unique code that retailers use to keep track of the items in their inventory.

These codes are unique to the retailer, so they have to create them after they start stocking the product.

It’s what’s printed on the removable tag that other retailers scan at checkout.

For Hobby Lobby, this is what the cashier looks at when you get to the register.

The company creates its own SKUs, but tracks the items manually instead of using automatic scanners to keep tabs on how they flow through stores.

This isn’t a new technique that Hobby Lobby invented; it’s how things used to work before automatic scanners were introduced.

Store owners would come up with codes for the items they had in stock, and over time, they would memorize the codes after seeing them enough times at checkout.

Hobby Lobby’s owners have decided to maintain this way of doing things for the 50 years that they have been in operation.

However, they have integrated some new ways to use the SKUs.

For example, if you know the code for a specific item, you can enter that and the quantity you want into a page on the company website to order it quickly.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether or not Hobby Lobby cuts glass, if Hobby Lobby sells fabrics, and does Hobby Lobby accept checks.


Hobby Lobby does not use barcode scanners, instead opting to tally items manually at checkout, but the exact reason for this is not known.

Instead of barcode scanners, the company tracks its inventory using SKUs, a similar type of system that stores use to tag the items it sells using codes developed by the company.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

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