The Christmas shopping period has always been a key period for high street retailers with increased footfall and spend. However, it has also been a time when shoplifters can “operate” in an environment that lends itself to blending in to the hustle and bustle of this important time of year for retailers and people across the UK.
In a world where retailer bottom-lines are under pressure as consumers are embracing the convenience of online shopping, it has never been more important for retailers to provide experiences that stand them out from online retailers and to protect their profits from everything that is attacking it. Shoplifters have always been one of these profit predators. Retailers need to be reactive and proactive to the increasing sophistication of today’s criminals, not only protecting their bottom-line but also establishing more control of their customer experience that can be disrupted by criminal activity.
£366 billion is spent every year on the UK’s high street, with nearly three million people employed in the retail space. Whilst the vast majority of honest law abiding people are shopping for gifts for others and food and drink for their family, thieves will steal an average of £37.04 per UK family. This equates to nearly £1 billion losses in the Christmas period (mid-November to end-December). Shop-lifting and internal theft account for nearly 67% of all inventory losses.
As criminals become more organized the security industry must adapt. Police and security firm databases are beginning to highlight the hot spots across the country where gangs operate highly organised, “Smash and Grab” raids on high-end retailers. This trend is becoming more widely used regardless of time of day. Retailers, with their security partners are fighting back with a variety of different methods to combat this including smoke cloaks, personal alarms and other technologies.
Innovative security companies are working with police forces up and down the country to develop proactive plans to protect retailer profits and customer experiences. The loss of police officers on the street has meant that the private security industry has had to step up, as the 4th emergency service! Operationally this provides simple but important challenges, such as, security guards need to be trained in writing reports which helps the police gain accurate and timely information that can be used in a court of law. Expertise and experience in crime prevention is another challenge for leading security companies, gathering intelligence and feeding back to retail clients to direct operational adjustment and security enhancement are prevention methods that make the criminal’s life tougher.
When you add in other hot topics such as counter terrorism, stop and search and citizen’s arrest, Shoppers do not realise the effort and expertise employed by the UK’s retailers and leading security companies, to make their Christmas shopping, in the most part, trouble free – and if the retailers and security companies are achieving their objectives, nor should they.
Here’s to a safe, profitable and great Christmas for the UK’s retailers.