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The Surprising Truth About Shoplifting

You’ve been keeping your eye on that group of teenagers coming into your shop, but…


 When we set out to write a blog about shoplifting we expected to focus on people coming into the store and taking items out. But what we found surprised us.

Shoplifting comes from both the outside: guests entering your store and leaving with items they did not purchase and employee theft, which has recently gained headlines as a growing concern for store owners.

This week we will focus on the first form of theft—from those visiting your shop. Next week we’ll talk about employee theft.

Right now, you’re probably either asking yourself WHO is taking the merchandise, or your kicking yourself for not watching that group of teenagers who came in to look at candles, more closely.

But the truth is, there is no one shoplifter profile! According to NASP “There is no profile of a typical shoplifter. Men and women shoplift about equally as often.” And, maybe more surprisingly, about 75% of shoplifters are adults, many of whom could afford the items but who shoplift on the whim of the moment (73% don’t enter the store planning to steal) and often feel a high from “getting away with it”.

What? Where?
Items stolen vary by store type and commonly range from a $2 item swiped into a pocket to a $200 item more strategically stolen. And to make it harder, many shoplifters buy and steal merchandise in the same visit.

Moreover, shoplifting impacts big chain stores and small independent stores. And, according to Business Insurance, the most shoplifted items in America include everything from home electronics like laptops and cellphones, to cosmetics, clothing, baby formula, and event meat.

How to stop it.
The first step is to talk to your employees about the cost of shoplifting, which was over $12 billion in 2010, up by $2 billion from 2002 (more on this in next week’s blog). Then, take a look at your store layout and consider ways to make it more difficult for shoplifters.

First, consider putting items you expect are most likely to be stolen into one area of the store that can be closely monitored. If you’re able, design that area so there is one entry/exit point to make stealing even less appealing.

Next, look at store visibility. Are the windows clear? Can you mostly see across the store? If there are blind spots consider a strategically placed mirror. An additional deterrent is a shoplifting sign, which you can make yourself or order online. There are many options to fit your store.

Finally, why not place your checkout counter close to the store entrance. This way shoppers (shoplifters) will have to boldly pass by you as they leave the store.

Shoplifting is an unfortunate crime in the US that impacts all stores large and small. While there is no true “shoplifter profile” there are effective deterrent strategies from adding signage to adjusting store layout.

Next week we’ll talk about a type of shoplifting that hits closer to home for small retailers—employee theft.

Has shoplifting impacted your store? How do you manage and deter it? Share with us in the comments below.

Melrose International is an industry leader in wholesale home décor, giftware, and seasonal items. Providing outstanding products, service, design, and value since 1985!

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