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The global pandemic has had an enormous impact on both convenience stores and retail outlets throughout the UK. Social distancing rules and new safe-working requirements have introduced restrictions which are, in many cases, likely to remain in place as the lockdown is eased. Reports have reflected how the closure of many retail (non grocery) stores resulted in a dramatic decrease in shoplifting. But it’s important to note that when some stores reopened in June 2020 they experienced a surge in theft and other crimes.
It’s also worth remembering the impact of the 2008 recession during which shoplifting hit record levels in the UK, increasing by around 20%. People were resorting to theft simply to sustain themselves and their families and to maintain their pre-recession living standards. The recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have a similar impact on crime.
According to the recently published ACS (Association of Convenience Stores) Crime Report 2021 shop theft declined by 33% over the past year. While this is clearly a positive improvement the report also highlights how a high number shop staff have experienced abuse and verbal threats, largely related to COVID-19. The report cites how shop staff have been abused when telling customers that they need to be wearing face coverings along with reminding customers of the need for social distancing and requesting they remove face coverings for ID checks.
This latest report also noted how 37% of shop thieves were first time offenders while 63% had done it before, with drug and alcohol addiction cited as the main reasons for repeat offences. The UK convenience store sector experienced around 1.1 million incidents of customer theft over the past year, costing an average of £1360 per store. The most popular stolen products being alcohol, confectionery and meat.
Some retailers are considering retaining many of the in-store restrictions they have put in place during the pandemic to reduce crime and keep their staff safe.
Shops have reported that the implementation of one-way customer flow systems along with restricting the number of people allowed into stores has reduced the number of blind spots, helping combat shoplifting. And the introduction of perspex screens has clearly been good for the security of shop staff which is one of the main reasons stores are considering keeping these measures in place.
It’s reported that although retailers have suffered from declining business during the pandemic many have sensibly invested in strengthening their retail security systems. CCTV, intruder alarms and additional security personnel have been the main areas of investment. There are also a number of lower cost retail security solutions which are being wisely adopted by many establishments.
In a previous blog post we highlighted how sensibly deployed convex retail security mirrors provide enhanced visibility in shops, warehouses, showrooms and elsewhere. Domed mirrors, on ceilings and in corners, can provide shop assistants with an all round view without the need to leave their checkout position. Retail security mirrors provide visibility into areas and blind spots which would otherwise be hidden from view and also serve as a powerful theft deterrent. Also, unlike CCTV systems, they are unaffected by power cuts and are much cheaper and simpler to install and maintain. Since many stores are now operating with fewer staff the installation of low-cost security-mirrors is a valuable enhancement that helps prevent theft and boosts staff safety.
Another highly effective yet low cost security device that prevents thieves from stealing valuable items is a retail loop alarm system. These devices use a looped cable, threaded through the protected items and connected to an alarm controller. If the cable is broken or detached the alarm sounds.
Alternative sensors are available to protect items which don’t provide an aperture through which the looped cable can be threaded. The alarm is triggered if the adhered sensor is removed from the protected item.
Importantly, battery operated loop alarm systems ensure that protection is maintained even if the mains power is down. And loop alarm systems also provide valuable security in a variety of non-retail situations including exhibitions, training environments, colleges, schools and more.
As noted, some shop owners have been wisely investing in intruder alarms to boost their premises security. Many have also taken advantage of the relatively quiet lockdown period to rigorously assess their perimeter security, ensuring all doors have robust locks, windows are secure and anti-climb barriers are in place around perimeters to prevent people from climbing into goods areas and gaining access via rear entrances and windows.
Safe and secure handling of cash in convenience stores and retail environments is essential. While the use of contactless debit cards has become commonplace cash is still widely used and can therefore attract the attention of criminals. Shops also need to easily detect counterfeit banknotes.
We offer a range of cash protection products including reusable cash bags, cash-in-transit boxes, cash collection trolleys and till safes which are widely used to ensure cash security. Click here to see our collection of retail security and cash protection products.
The old saying “forewarned is forearmed” is highly relevant to the challenges faced by retailers. As lockdown restrictions ease and the impact of the widely anticipated recession becomes apparent then it’s almost inevitable that shops and retail environments will be targeted by criminals. Luckily there are some highly effective yet low cost security solutions that can prevent them from becoming crime victims.
If you have any questions regarding your security challenges please remember that we are always ready to help. Call us on 01273 475500 for free help and advice.
This message was added on Thursday 8th April 2021
Need Help or Advice?
Call the Insight team
01273 475 500