When we talk about shoplifting, we tend to focus on its financial effects. These are hard to ignore. Over the last few years, retail crime has become an expensive problem:
- UK retailers lost £770 million to customer theft in 2019. This accounted for over a third of all stock loss.
- A total of 359.156 shoplifting incidents were reported in the UK in 2019.
- In London, shoplifting increased by 20% in 2018.
With businesses still struggling to recover from the pandemic, losing stock to thieves is the last thing you need. Total shoplifting incidents fell during the pandemic, but the stores that stayed open suffered more than ever. Face masks allowed thieves to hide their identities and social distancing rules made it harder for security colleagues to step in. Anne Martin is a store manager for Southern Co-op. Here she describes how thieves used the pandemic to their advantage:
“We have had incidents where shoplifters have used the two-metre rule to steal from us. We have put spirits on the counter, stepped back and they have just grabbed it and run.”
Things may get even worse as life returns to normal. After the 2008 recession, shoplifting surged by 20% as people stole out of desperation. With 800,000 people left jobless by the pandemic, we may see a similar increase in the coming months.
The effects are psychological as well as financial
Shoplifting can be devastating for a business, but it can be equally harmful to the wellbeing of colleagues. The pandemic was especially hard on those working in retail, and many are still feeling fragile:
- 84% of colleagues suffered a decline in mental health during the pandemic
- 92% were verbally abused by customers
- 14% were physically assaulted
More than half of physical assaults on retail colleagues stem from shoplifting incidents, as does 30% of all colleague abuse. Non-security colleagues should never be expected to confront shoplifters, and you should make this clear to your team. Nevertheless, many will still feel a sense of guilt at failing to stop a thief.
It pays to put well being first
It is misleading to separate the financial impact of shoplifting from its effect on colleague morale. In many ways, the two things are one and the same. With colleagues still feeling the strain of the pandemic, a persistent shoplifting problem could be the last straw:
- A recent survey showed that 38% of UK workers are planning to quit their jobs by the end of the year.
- In the USA, 650,000 retail colleagues resigned in April 2021 alone.
Hiring new colleagues is considerably more expensive than keeping the ones you have. This means that there is also a financial incentive to protect your team from the psychological impact of shoplifting. Luckily, we can help.
A safer way to stop thieves
Shoplifters thrive when colleagues struggle to communicate. Whether it’s finding a tannoy to raise the alarm, or searching the store for a security colleague, these precious seconds are all a thief needs to make their escape.
Our products allow colleagues to raise the alarm immediately without putting themselves in danger:
- Headsets provide a direct line to the security team. Colleagues can alert them to an ongoing incident in a fast and discreet way.
- Telephony integration allows colleagues to contact emergency services from their headsets. This means they don’t have to search for a phone if an incident turns violent.
- Headsets can be integrated with your store’s tannoy system. This allows a colleague to trigger an automated public announcement without giving away their identity.
- Colleagues can authorise multiple self-checkout purchases from a single position using their headsets. This allows them to monitor all checkouts at once, making it harder for thieves to go unnoticed.
- Headsets are visible to potential shoplifters, creating a powerful deterrent to theft.
These are just a few of the ways that we can help you to take back control. For more personalised recommendations, don’t hesitate to give us a call.