How to prevent theft at your retail location this holiday season

How to prevent theft at your retail location this holiday season

by CIG December 12, 2017
Small business insurance

Theft is a pervasive concern for retailers. A thief not only poses a safety threat to the employees and customers, but crime can negatively impact a business’s bottom line.

Unfortunately, retail theft happens all too often. This problem is particularly common during the holiday season. According to the 2016 Retail Holiday Season Global Forecast, a report sponsored by Checkpoint Systems, the fourth quarter of last year was predicted to see notably high sales volumes yet disappointingly low margins, Security Info Watch reported. One aspect of this is the influx of retail theft during the holiday season.

Quarterly margins for the year typically come in around 31 percent. However, fourth quarter margins are typically lower, at 29 percent. Although holiday marketing and sales take a toll, the lower margin is usually due to inventory shrinkage. According to the National Retail Federation, more than one-third of shrinkage is due to thieves. Another 30 percent is lost to employee theft or other internal sources taking inventory. It’s important for retailers to know how to prevent theft at their locations to protect their revenues and keep their employees and customers safe from threats that arise during a crime.

Don’t make your store a target

The most important way to prevent theft at your location is to not make your store attractive to thieves, sale retail platform Vend explained. Criminals look for specific weaknesses in the stores they target, such as:

  • Large amounts of cash on-hand.
  • Hidden areas throughout the store.
  • Few staff members on duty.
  • Poor lighting.

Where can you start? Ensure there’s only enough cash in your till to conduct normal business. Never have more money on-hand than you need. This may mean making more frequent trips to the bank, but be careful with this, too. Scatter your trips to the bank at unpredictable intervals – don’t let a criminal take note that you carry large amounts of cash at precisely 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, for example.
While it’s best to not keep too much cash on-hand, stowing aside some just-in-case money may help in the event of a robbery. Stash a stack of mixed denominations and write down the serial numbers of each bill. This is the money your employee should hand over in the event of a hold-up. This way, you’re financially prepared for the crime, plus the police can track how the money is spent.

The holiday season typically means hiring temporary staff. This helps with increased sales volumes, but also helps deter criminals from targeting your store. The more employees who are present, the riskier a target that location is for the robber. Be sure you have multiple people on the clock at any point in time. This is particularly true for opening, closing and lunch shifts, which typically call for fewer hands on deck. Since there’s less need for employees on the floor during these times, these shifts are also a prime time for a crime. Criminals tend to seek out opportunities when they can’t be seen. By eliminating obstructions like oversized in-store displays, and incorporating items like cameras and mirrors to view hard-to-see corners, you’re taking away the types of hiding spots criminals seek out.

Invest in retail insurance

There are plenty of actions you can take as a business owner to mitigate crime at your shop. However, there’s always a chance that a criminal may attempt to rob you anyway. A key way to make sure these events don’t have a major impact on your bottom line is to invest in a sound retail insurance policy. Depending on your business, you may need property insurance, liability insurance or both. Find out what works for you when you speak with a CIG Insurance Agent.

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