The holiday season is here and customer traffic is picking up. But along with increased sales, the holidays also mean increased shoplifting for many retailers.

Shoplifting was the largest cause of retail inventory loss in the U.S. in 2014, accounting for 38% of the total, according to a study by the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida. (Other sources of the total $44 billion in losses included employee theft, administrative errors, and vendor fraud.) With so much at stake, there are a few steps you should take to arm your business against holiday theft.

Empower your employees. Your first line of defense against shoplifting must be your employees, especially during the busy season. Encourage them to walk around the store, greeting customers and asking if they can assist them. An active presence on the sales floor discourages shoplifting and is perceived as good customer service.

Prepare your store. Display smaller and more expensive items near the front register or in other areas that can be under constant observation by employees. Arrange displays and aisles to maximize visibility from service counters. Keep displays tidy and well organized. If something is out of place, you will be able to tell at a glance.

Use surveillance camera systems. Surveillance cameras are the number one technology deterrent to shoplifting. Their very presence tends to keep people honest – in their actions, at least, if not in their hearts. Determined shoplifters who decide to ignore the risk are more likely to be caught in the act and far more likely to be successfully prosecuted – fear of which is the real nature of the deterrence. Meanwhile, honest customers understand that cameras are simply your due diligence to protect your business and a way to minimize shrinkage, thus keeping prices down for everyone.

Keep records. Maintain a log of suspicious individuals. Even if your surveillance video hasn’t caught someone in the act, you can capture images off the video of people you think bear watching on future visits. Attach notes to the images and make them available to your sales floor staff.

Share information. Compare notes with other retail stores in your area. Talk about suspicious activities and individuals you’ve noticed. There are two classes of shoplifters to take note of:

  • “Casual” shoplifters see something they like and decide on the spur of the moment to take the risk. Their choices vary, especially during the holidays, when they may lift different items for different people on their gift lists.
  • Professionals shoplifters tend to focus on one class of item that they can easily resell: small electronics, for example, or quality handbags.

A retail theft is committed every five seconds in this country and no store is immune, but these tactics can help prevent it.

Max Communications sells and installs security and telecommunications systems for any size business in southern New Jersey. From cost effective, efficient, and reliable surveillance solutions to mobile point of sale systems that give clerks mobility to move throughout the store, thus limiting opportunities for shoplifting, Max Communications has the systems to ensure a profitable low-loss holiday season for your business. Contact us today for a free estimate: 856-825-6000.