How the pandemic changed theft in US fashion stores

Thieves succeed when communication fails. We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Article by Joe Martin | 19th August 2022

The pandemic transformed retail in a number of ways, and not all of them were positive. New shopping behaviors created opportunities for criminals, and shoplifting spiked as a result. Understanding these changes is the key to fighting back. Here’s how theft has changed in fashion stores, and what you can do to stay one step ahead of the criminals. 

Shoplifting is at crisis point 

Even before the pandemic, shoplifting was a growing problem for US stores. Retail theft reached an all time high in 2019, costing stores more than $60 billion

Things only got worse with the onset of the pandemic. Although store closures caused total theft to fall, the stores that stayed open suffered more than ever:

There are several possible explanations for this. The pandemic led to a rise in ecommerce which, in turn, made it easier for thieves to resell stolen items online. Poverty and unemployment also increased, causing many people to steal out of desperation. 

Most of all though, the pandemic made it harder to catch thieves in the act. Widespread personnel shortages made it difficult for security teams to monitor stores effectively. With thousands of retail associates continuing to quit their jobs, this problem will persist long after the pandemic is over. 

What does this mean for fashion stores? 

Fashion stores have always been vulnerable to theft. Before the pandemic, they lost more revenue to shoplifters than stores in any other retail sector, and this looks likely to continue. Clothes are easier to steal than many bulkier items, and their high value relative to their size makes them a tempting target for thieves. 

To make matters worse, the fashion sector lost over 43,000 jobs in the first year of the pandemic. This means that many stores are still understaffed, creating more opportunities for criminals. 

But don’t despair just yet. VoCoVo is here to help you stand your ground. 

A smarter way to fight crime

Thieves are taking advantage of gaps in communication caused by associate shortages. Plugging these gaps is the key to improving security, and this is where we can help. Our system allows instant communication from anywhere in store, making it much harder for criminals to slip through the cracks:

  • Headsets let associates contact the security team at the push of a button. The in-ear design means that they can speak at a normal volume, allowing them to raise the alarm without tipping off criminals.
  • Headsets act as a visible deterrent. Thieves will see that associates are connected, and this may dissuade them from stealing.
  • Headsets can be linked to your telephone system. This allows associates to call emergency services without having to find a phone. In accordance with new laws, our system lets you call 911 directly without the need to dial for an outside line.
  • Smart CCTV can be linked to headsets using our notification API. This allows cameras to send automatic alerts to associates whenever they spot suspicious behavior. 

Find out more about VoCoVo and smart integration

We can’t stop theft altogether, but we can give your team the tools they need to fight back. With VoCoVo in your corner, shoplifters have finally met their match! Get in touch today to find out more. 

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