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    NFU Mutual survey shows record levels of rampant retail crime

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    Over eight in ten retailers have experienced crime in the last six months, states a new research published today (3), adding that shopkeepers across the UK are being forced to take desperate measures to protect their livelihoods.

    According to a new study by commercial insurer NFU Mutual into the impact of crime on UK retailers, carried out in September by commercial insurer NFU Mutual, 83 per cent have experienced crime and more than a quarter experienced violence against themselves, their staff and even their customers.

    The new research published reveals over two thirds of retailers say crime has worsened in 2023, with 19 per cent considering leaving physical retail due to the crime epidemic and 15 per cent contemplating leaving the retail sector altogether.

    This year alone, 82 per cent of retailers have had to take security measures to protect their business from crime. The high street is now commonly seeing the use of bodycams (17 per cent) and panic alarms (21 per cent), with a quarter of shopkeepers security tagging expensive products or more products than before. As attacks on staff also become a concern, 17 per cent of retailers have trained employees in self-defence and personal safety and 18 per cent are displaying signs to warn customers against aggressive behaviour.

    One in ten shopkeepers have also had to keep doors locked to control crime, states the report.

    Over a quarter of respondents (27 per cent) said the impact on their own and their staff’s mental health is their most pressing concern and almost one in five (19 per cent) live in fear of organised gangs targeting their shops, as seen recently in attacks on stores across the country.

    Over a quarter of respondents (27 per cent) said the impact on their own and their staff’s mental health is their most pressing concern and almost one in five (19 per cent) live in fear of organised gangs targeting their shops, as seen recently in attacks on stores across the country.

    James Jordan, Commercial Specialist at NFU Mutual, said, “Our study shows that retailers of all sizes are unfortunately struggling as incidences of theft and violence rocket in our shops, but it is also clear that retailers are making huge efforts to protect their stock, staff, and premises.

    “Our retailers are at the heart of our communities and local economies so it’s crucial they feel protected and supported should the worst happen.”

    NFU Mutual Risk Management Services’ advice for retailers:

    • Use customer service as a tool to deter thieves – greeting them lets them know they have been acknowledged and will deter them as they have been identified
    • Make sure store layouts are organised and tidy, placing high-value or items which are more desirable for thieves in monitorable areas
    • Train staff to recognise shoplifting tactics – for example, concealing items under coats or distracting shopkeepers – and ensure they know how to keep themselves safe
    • If possible, limit the number of high value items on display and secure remaining stock within a robust, lockable store
    • Consider signage in-store notifying thieves that they will be prosecuted
    • Regular stocktaking helps identify which items are being targeted
    • Consider adding mirrors to the store to reduce blind spots
    • If investing in surveillance (CCTV) ensure it provides good quality images, is recorded to the cloud and meets requirements of GDPR
    • Be aware of Cyber threats and make sure you have cyber insurance in place should the worst happen
    • Consider hiring data protection specialists to provide ongoing security of your data.

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