Retailers and consumers aren’t the only ones looking forward to a restart of the US economy. As shops begin to reopen their doors, Loss Prevention Magazine is predicting a rise in both Organized Retail Crime and general shoplifting.
They note a slump in employment may see crime on the up at a time when retailers are also navigating a revenue downturn and restricted supply line.
So how can retailers best prepare to welcome back shoppers yet ward off crime?
Desperate times, desperate measures
According to statistics, economic downturns often result in a spike in retail crime. LP Magazine notes after both September 11 and the Global Financial Crisis there was a “significant increase in theft and ORC activity”.
With the US economy hit hard by Covid-19, that trend could again resurface in 2020, especially with so many people facing unemployment.
Meanwhile, after a national shutdown, the retail sector is looking to make up for lost economic ground, hoping consumers will re-embrace spending with renewed confidence.
The last thing the sector needs in the wake of Covid-19 is to lose further revenue due to preventable shrink.
Theft prevention measures
As retailers look to reopen their doors with new social distancing rules in play, attention should also be firmly focused on loss prevention.
This should include a multifaceted strategy that encompasses an audit of the store’s layout and lighting, staff training, surveillance, and implementing available technology like Electronic Article Surveillance featuring security tags and labels.
Now is the time to re-educate staff about what to look for in terms of shoplifting and Organized Retail Crime, along with the process of dealing with a suspected incident.
This will be particularly critical in retail outlets where new staff members may be joining the team.
As retail managers take a cold hard look at their stores to reconfigure them for better social distancing, attention should also be paid to the role that layout and lighting plays in shoplifting.
This involves considering questions like:
- Are there dimly lit areas or sections of a shop which are out of view of staff?
- Are high-value items secured or positioned within view of the POS?
- Are sales tables enticing enough to lure shoppers in, but far enough from the entry to deter incidents of snatch and grab?
- Is your stock protected at a product-based level against theft?
Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS)
Comprising fashion tags, security labels, and purpose-designed tags like liquor bottle caps, EAS remains one of the most effective theft prevention strategies within the retail sector. The reopening of stores is the ideal time to audit your system and gauge its effectiveness.
Now is the time to ensure:
- Tags are of a sufficient magnetic strength to reduce elicit removal (Superlock tags are the minimum magnetic locking strength recommended)
- The right type of tags and labels are fitted to the right products
- Tag pins are large enough to reduce the likelihood of illicit tag removal
- Your EAS system is operating properly
- Staff are educated on tag and label application, along with correct removal, and handling any alarms
You can read more about improving your EAS security in-store here.
In addition to EAS, many stores employ loss prevention personnel and technology like CCTV to guard against Organized Retail Crime and theft.
These strategies will be increasingly important as the retail sector opens for a number of reasons.
Security personnel will now also be largely responsible for handling social distancing in-store, in addition to their loss prevention duties.
That means they will require additional training and support in the form of technology.
The road ahead
The reopening of US retail outlets is welcome news for both the sector and the national economy. But if history is anything to go by the tough economic times could see a spike in crimes that are both organized and increasingly desperate.
For retailers, the key is to be ready, to be prepared and to leave nothing to chance when it comes to loss prevention.