Shoplifting costs the retail sector hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenue each year – latest estimates put the cost at £337million. This is no ‘victimless crime’ – the effects of this can range from increasing the costs of goods for the customer to putting stores out of business completely. Shoplifting is a hard nut to crack and is not something that will be eliminated in the near future. There are, however, a wide range of measures that even small businesses on a tight budget can take to significantly reduce the problem.
What do shoplifters look for?
The first step towards reducing shoplifting is to understand what shoplifters look for, so you will know if your business is an easy target. Retail display experts Wrights GPX spoke to PS Andy Grapsas of the Surrey Police, which had one of the most improved shoplifting rates between 2013 and 2014. He told us what thieves look for when looking for a target:
– Shops with high shelving that obscures the shopkeepers’ view
– High value products within close proximity to entrances and exits
– Lack of CCTV or security staff
– Lack of visible staff or shopkeepers
– No security barriers or tags
– Poor lighting
– Busy stores or a poor staff to customer ratio
– Blind spots that can’t be overseen by staff from a distance
What do shoplifters look like?
There’s no one-size-fits-all look for a shoplifter, but depending on the techniques they use to steal from your shop, you need to need to know the red flags suggested by PS Grapsas:
– Inappropriate clothing like long coats in warmer weather are perfect for concealing stolen goods
– Carrying shopping bags from other shops
– Entering your store in pairs and then splitting up once inside
– Loitering in high value property aisles
– Carrying large, empty bags into the shop that they may then fill with stolen items
What should you do to reduce the problem?
PS Grapsas advised that some stores are more vulnerable to the financial impact of shoplifting than others. Businesses need to weigh up the cost of shoplifting versus the cost of prevention measures, and also the impact on sales. For example, some large shops keep displays of higher value goods near the door to attract customers in and boost sales. Smaller shops might want to keep high value products further away from the door when they can’t easily absorb the cost of shoplifting.
Our top ten tips to keep shoplifters away from your store
- Keep high value products away from entrances and exits
- Install CCTV or hire a security guard. A cheaper option can be to give the impression of having CCTV, even if you don’t.
- Make sure your premises are well lit
- Attach security tags to all items. A cheaper option is to forgo the security barriers and just attach tags to items. They may not work, but still may put off potential thieves
- Make sure you have good vantage points for staff and add mirrors for full visibility into any areas that can’t be seen
- Put items that are easy to shoplift close to the checkout where you can keep a close eye on them
- Maintain a good line of sight to sections of your store where desirable items are displayed
- Use packaging that is hard to conceal
- Put up signs stating your policy about prosecuting shoplifters
- Alternating clothing hanger directions makes grabbing a large amount of clothing and running away much more difficult
Train, train and train again!
A really important weapon in the battle against theft is effective staff training. Ensure all staff receives proper training about how to look for shoplifters and what to do if they see someone stealing. Ensure staff greet customers as they enter the store. Giving attentive customer service will put off thieves as they don’t have the privacy needed to conceal items. Instead of staying at the tills, get staff to regularly wander around the shop floor, tidying, interacting with customers and watching what’s happening. Ensure changing rooms are manned at all times and that staff are careful to count the number of items taken in and out, not just the number of hangers they see.
Have you got any great ideas to reduce theft and stop thieves? We’d love to hear from you and will publish the best on our Facebook page
About Wrights Plastics GPX
Since 1969, we have worked with 1000s of retailers throughout the UK to help maximise sales through great display. Our online store offers 1000s of off-the-shelf items. Most are manufactured by us at our West Bromwich base and all offer excellent quality at unbeatable prices. Our bespoke division work with some of the UK’s largest retailers and Retail Design Agencies to develop truly effective retail displays – find out more here.