Retail theft, including shoplifting, employee theft and contractor theft costs UK retailers billions per year. Understand the most common ways it occurs and learn how to best protect your business with smart CCTV and access control systems designed to meet the challenge
Retail theft continues to pose a serious threat to UK retailers, costing the industry billions every year, and forcing business owners to invest in technology to fight back against the thieves.
Shoplifting, employee theft and contractor theft are a constant threat to retail outlets, as well as health, spa and wellness businesses, who make huge losses every year because of retail theft.
The statistics are alarming and enough to make decision makers and retail business owners sit up, take notice and act fast.
The National Fraud Agency says that theft and business fraud costs the UK economy more than £73bn each year. And the British Retail Consortium’s annual Retail Crime Survey for 2017 reported that customer theft alone had grown by 15% to £500m.
While the challenges can seem daunting, there are answers, starting by understanding the most common ways retail theft occurs; and from there learning how to best protect your business, especially with smart CCTV and access control systems designed to meet the challenge – like those installed by JMH technology.
The impact on business of retail theft
The BRC survey, the most important analysis of the key retail crime and security trends in the UK, showed that the direct cost of customer theft had grown by £65m in the year to March 2017.
And with around one in ten workers in the UK employed in retail, retail theft is costing communities jobs as well as costing business considerable amounts of money.
Customer theft is nearly three quarters of the total cost of retail crime, and the amount of shoplifting is still rising when other thefts are falling – up by a quarter since 2007.
The BRC also reported a 6% year on year growth in total recorded incidents of theft and damage, and that employee theft grew by 36% since the previous year’s survey – with burglary growing by 21% over the same period.
And as nearly half of the 1.1 million employees surveyed rated the police performance as poor in responding to retail crime in general, there is clearly a increasing need for retail businesses to take their own measures to protect themselves.
What forms does retail theft take?
As outlined before there are several different kinds of retail theft that pose a threat to businesses.
Shoplifting affects retail businesses of all type and sizes throughout the UK. Shoplifters take items – typically such as clothing, food, or electrical items – and then leave the shop, supermarket or health premises without paying.
In most cases, the shoplifter will conceal the items on their person, such as in a bag or their pockets, or under a coat. And while people shoplift for a whole variety of different reasons, they can be deterred or caught using manpower or CCTV technology.
Employee theft is just as big a danger to retail businesses, and also happens for all kinds of reasons. Some employees can feel disgruntled, or too tempted by the produce on offer in their outlet. But in most cases they simply steal for financial gain.
Recent research by Kit Out My Office showed that two thirds of office-based employees in the UK had stolen from their workplace, with an surprising 11 per cent revealing that they had stolen personal items from colleagues.
And a survey widely reported in the UK national media in March 2017 revealed that more than half of Britain’s employees admitted to stealing from their employer.
Tangible employee theft is most likely to see items physically stolen from retail premises such as items of stock, as well as general equipment and machinery.
With similar threats being posed to outlets by contractors and suppliers, especially those coming and going in and out of busy premises without adequate supervision by staff or technology.
Understanding these forms of retail theft better, it’s easy to build a picture of why a smart CCTV system coupled with an access control system could provide retail owners with an effective approach to combat the problem.
Especially when these technology solutions are integrated with HR best practice and similar procedures in terms of retail management.
Best practice steps you can take to limit retail theft
Here’s an overview of what you need to know in terms of best practice plus some invaluable tips for protecting yourself.
Not so much a protection as a compensation, it makes sense to check your theft cover on your insurance as a starting point, before looking at the organisation of your store itself. Clear open aisles, good lighting, and checkouts towards the front of the shop where the exits are will all provide a deterrent to the shoplifter who likes to pocket things out of sight and slip out undetected.
Big signs warning shoplifters that you intend to prosecute them can help, as will educating your staff on the best way to spot suspects and about generally remaining vigilant.
Making your staff, customers and suppliers well aware that your will investigate and prosecute all incidents of theft yourself, rather than always rely on police and public prosecutions, can work as a major deterrent.
Police forces are not always willing or able to attend all reported incidents of theft these days, nor do the Crown Prosecution Service want to prosecute in all cases where they don’t perceive there to be a public interest. So always implement robust and through investigation procedures, random checks on staff where necessary – and make sure you communicate all these policies effectively to all concerned.
Visible deterrents work too against shopfloor employee theft, as will imposing security guards against all types of potential thieves, while being conscious of maintaining the balance of an inviting place for your customers to purchase from you.
But the most obvious and visible deterrent will be CCTV and video monitoring systems, where everyone can see cameras are in place, and working in all parts of the retail premises.
JMH technology is an industry-leading installer of CCTV and remote access systems – key fobs and key cards throughout your premises, instead of manual metal keys – and can supply systems to help you combat the retail theft threat.
How can CCTV and Access Control systems battle retail theft?
In same way as the retail industry has successfully invested heavily in crime prevention to combat credit card fraud, online scams and to protect against cyber-criminals so are retail businesses looking to surveillance technology to assist them.
JMH Technology can advise you on various solutions and how their professional installation might help your business:
- Discreet access control, intercom and CCTV systems designed with client, guest, and customer privacy in mind.
- Protect your retail business against retail theft of all kinds, including shoplifting, employee and contractor theft.
- Get rid of out-dated manual keys and be in complete control, day or night by using a modern access control system instead.
- High-performing, reliable access control and high-resolution CCTV systems for businesses of all sizes providing you both with on-site security around the clock, and visible deterrents to potential retail thieves.
- Save on unnecessary and outdated manual security, and compliment efficient retail management to protect against employee theft by using the latest high-tech solutions instead.
- Manage multi-site staff movement and digitally manage contractor and supplier access to all kinds of retail premises: shops, supermarkets, health, spa and wellness businesses, and retail outlets of all sizes and in any location.