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    Supermarkets see most shoplifting of any retail sector amid cost-of-living crisis

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    With the UK still in the throws of the cost of living crisis, it is no surprise shoplifting has increased, with the the British Retail Consortium (BRC) estimating that there were eight million “theft incidents” in British shops last year, costing £953 million.

    Money.co.uk shop insurance experts have extracted crime data for England & Wales to see which retail industries, and which individual have been the worst victims of shop theft, and the results are below:

    Shoplifting by type of shop

    The table below shows the number of shoplifting crimes (top 10) recorded between August 2020 and July 2023.

    Supermarkets see most shoplifting of any retail sector amid cost-of-living crisis

    Supermarkets show the highest number of shoplifting crimes, followed by department and convenience stores. Data, analysed by the BBC, shows shoplifting offences have returned to pre-pandemic levels as the cost of living rises.

    A spokesperson for Waitrose said that while it could not “speculate on the reasons”, it was seeing “rising numbers of shoplifting offences – often by organised gangs as well as anti-social behaviour”. It makes sense that convenience stores are also in the top three, with these including off-licenses and newsagents selling food and drink items.

    Shoplifting by brand

    The table below shows the number of shoplifting crimes by brand (top 20) recorded between August 2020 and July 2023.

    Supermarkets see most shoplifting of any retail sector amid cost-of-living crisis

    Wilko is the only non-supermarket brand that features in the top ten. Coincidentally, Wiko is currently in administration. 

    Boots, B&M, BP, TK Maxx, John Lewis, Home Bargains and Poundland also feature in the top 20, alongside supermarkets. 

    Expert tips on preventing shoplifting

    Preventing shoplifting in your store is crucial for maintaining profitability and a safe shopping environment.

    “In the world of retail, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ theft or shoplifting will occur,” said Money.co.uk shop insurance expert Cameron Jaques. “These unfortunate events can strike any business at any time, causing significant financial strain and disruption. Shop insurance acts as a guardian for your store, providing essential protection when you need it the most. It’s the safety net that ensures your business can withstand the challenges posed by theft and shoplifting, allowing you to focus on serving your customers and growing your enterprise.”

    He also gives his top tips for preventing shoplifting in your retail store:

    Employee Training:

    Ensure that your staff is trained to identify suspicious behavior. Teach them to approach customers with a friendly greeting and offer assistance, as this can deter potential shoplifters.

    Maintain Records For Shop Insurance Purposes:

    Keep detailed records of your inventory, including photographs and receipts. This documentation can be invaluable when filing a claim with your insurance company in the event of theft or vandalism.

    Assess Your Coverage Needs:

    Before shopping for insurance, thoroughly assess your store’s specific needs. Consider factors such as the value of your inventory, location, and the potential risks associated with your business.

    Compare Multiple Insurance Quotes:

    Don’t settle for the first insurance quote you receive. Obtain multiple quotes from different insurers to compare coverage options, deductibles, and premiums. This can help you find the most cost-effective policy.

    Visible Staff Presence:

    Maintain a visible staff presence throughout the store. This not only makes customers feel more secure but also discourages shoplifters who are less likely to steal when they know they are being watched.

    Use Mirrors and Cameras:

    Install mirrors and security cameras strategically to eliminate blind spots in the store. Display signs indicating the presence of surveillance, as this can deter potential thieves.

    Organiaed Store Layout:

    Keep your store well-organised and clutter-free. This allows staff to have better visibility and makes it harder for shoplifters to conceal stolen items.

    Limited Access to High-Value Items:

    Restrict access to high-value or easily pocketable items by placing them in locked display cases or near the checkout counter. Customers can request assistance to view these products.

    Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) Systems:

    Invest in EAS systems that attach security tags to merchandise. These tags trigger alarms when tampered with or taken out of the store without being deactivated.

    Bag Checks and Receipt Verification:

    Implement a bag check policy at the store exit and ask customers to show their receipts. This adds a layer of security and sends a clear message that theft will not be tolerated.

    Engage with Customers:

    Engage customers in conversation when appropriate. A friendly and attentive staff can make potential shoplifters uncomfortable and less likely to steal.

    Collaborate with Local Law Enforcement:

    Establish a relationship with local law enforcement and report thefts promptly. This can deter habitual shoplifters and lead to their apprehension.

    Educate Your Customers:

    Use signage and announcements to educate customers about your store’s shoplifting policy and its consequences. This can deter theft by making individuals aware of the potential legal and financial ramifications.

    Research compiled by https://www.money.co.uk/business-insurance/shop-insurance

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