According to an article in the UK publication Retail Gazette, retailers across the UK are increasingly adopting facial recognition software that captures shoppers’ ages, genders, and shopping history.  

The technology is becoming increasingly advanced, and is able to store records of your face and share it with third party companies that process the data and produce shopper insights. 

The article describes three ways the stored information is currently being used:

  1. Voluntarily blacklisting oneself from places such as casinos or “whitelisting” oneself in a place a shopper regularly goes so they can have a favorite drink made as soon as the customer enters; 
  2. Non-voluntary blacklisting of shoplifters; and 
  3. Profiling, in which a retailer establishes a shopper’s name, gender and age based on his facial features. In this scenario the retained data is anonymized because the retailer is more concerned about the customer’s shopping habits than his name. 

While current legislation in the country allows personal data, including facial features, to be kept on record without customer consent for the purpose of boosting sales, some ethical concerns have been raised, such as retailers recognizing big spenders and sending assistants to ensure they are treated better than the average customer.

At this point the legislation is rather vague, but there is no doubt that because it is something that can be monetized, it will continue to grow in popularity and must be addressed sooner rather than later.

To read the article, visit