Nisa has called for greater protection for independent retailers from authorities following a surge of retail crime.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) Crime Report 2023 revealed 87 per cent of store employees have experienced verbal abuse, whilst there have been almost 9,000 incidents of robbery of convenience stores between 2022 and 2023.
“Our teams hear on a weekly basis from retailers suffering from the ongoing challenge of shoplifting and the impact that is having both financially and on their own wellbeing,” Victoria Lockie, Nisa’s head of retail, said.
“This is particularly tough for independent retailers, many of whom are open longer hours and can’t afford to hire professional security. These horrific incidents have a long-lasting impact on businesses and a negative impact for the community overall.”
A recent report by the Co-op Group, which owns Nisa, revealed that retail crime has surged to record levels with repeat offenders and criminal gangs operating exempt from consequences.
Co-op has seen crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour jump 35 per cent year-on-year, with more than 175,000 incidents recorded in the first six months of this year – almost 1,000 incidents every day.
The Co-op led report also highlighted that police failed to respond in 71 per cent of serious retail crimes reported with some, according to the police data, not responding to nine in ten serious incidents reported.
“The recent Co-op led report on retail crime highlighted some significant challenges, with the appropriate authorities failing to respond in over 70 per cent of serious retail crimes reported. If we are going to tackle this issue seriously, we need that number to be dramatically reduced so independent retailers can feel safe simply doing their job,” Lockie added.
Ben Selvaratnam, owner of Freshfields Market in Croydon – a family run Nisa partnered store, admits shoplifting has become such an issue that they are targeted by three to 10 thefts or attempted thefts a day. Financially this costs Ben and his family hundreds of pounds a week.
Ben said: “We are a small, family run business and we can’t afford to hire separate security. We don’t make enough money to do that. We are in a very competitive high street town centre.
“It’s just very tough for us just to survive so this does have a massive impact. We now watch the CCTV at all times. We’re trying to manage a situation where we’re almost getting swamped.
“So many people would just say I don’t need this in my life. Why would I work so hard, take so much risk and try and make a living when someone can just walk in at the end of the day and take all the money I’ve earned and walk out with it and there will be no consequences for them?”
“We have noticed more people that you wouldn’t have expected to shoplift before; good people who have maybe fallen on hard times.
“They are older. They normally steal tins of fish or fresh meat items from the fridge, spam or corned beef. They aren’t violent and once they have been confronted they hand it over and leave quietly.
“Then there are those with drug addictions who steal things like coffee, honey, razor blades and T-bags. They are generally more violent when confronted.
“Then there are youngsters or teenagers riding around on cycles who generally steal what they need if they are hungry or they want a drink. They will come in and take what they want.
“[On one occasion] they were challenged by two members of the team. They looked and said: “I’m not giving it back, I’m not going to pay for it. What are you going to do? It can happen anywhere between three to 10 times every day.”
The store catches thieves by having one member of staff to constantly monitor the store’s CCTV, and have a policy of confronting them. They position items at the front of the shelves facing forward meaning they know instantly if items are missing.
They’ve also reduced their opening hours from 8.30am to 9pm instead of 11pm after they noticed a spike in incidents late at night.
Yesterday, some 88 UK retail leaders, including the bosses of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer, have signed a letter to home secretary Suella Braverman, demanding action over rising rates of retail crime.