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  • Samantha Steadman

The Rise of Crime in Retail (and what companies are doing to combat it)

Updated: Apr 5

As retailers strive to create inviting spaces for customers, they are simultaneously grappling with an uptick in criminal activities. The fight against retail crime is not merely a pursuit of justice, but a commitment to preserve the sanctity of the shopping experience and creating a secure and safe environment for both retailers and consumers.

In this blog, we will explore the prevalence of addressing this growing trend of retail crime, some of the strategies which stores are implementing in which to do so and how a united front is essential in securing shelves and ensuring a safer, resilient retail industry.

Personal Body Cams at Aldi[1]

Aldi has become the latest supermarket to offer staff body-worn camera in a bid to deter shoplifters.

Chief executive Giles Hurley spoke on the move being trialled in a handful of stores through the UK saying, “There’s an uptick [in shoplifting] across the industry and we’re not immune to that. It is a top priority for us.” The trial which is now underway is part of a scheme which includes a number of security measures, including checking customers’ shopping bags at the checkouts, is a direct response to the rise in crime in retail environments.

He added, “We are very clear that [our team] should expect a safe and secure working environment.”

“Love Bombing” at Waitrose[2]

Waitrose has found a unique way to tackle shoplifting in stores – by showing their customers a little extra love. Dubbed by the company as “love-bombing”, the technique involves the team at Waitrose giving extra attentiveness to customers within the store working on the understanding that shoplifters rely on opportunities where they are less likely to be noticed within stores.

By offering help and attention to their clientele, not only does customer service vastly improve across the board, would-be criminals are immediately more aware of the staff’s presence and so are deterred from stealing.

The scheme proves itself especially successful at self-checkouts where thieves would take the opportunity to “fail to scan” certain items or put them through as cheaper alternatives. Head of security at Waitrose, Nicki Juniper says, “It’s a win-win: our customers get a great shopping experience, with partners visibility on hand to help, while the would-be shoplifters are deterred.”

Coffees Offered to Police Officers[3]

Waitrose and John Lewis are offering free coffees for police officers who visit their stores with a reusable cup, in efforts to cut down on shoplifting and violence against staff. The retail giant has called the scheme “Thanks a Latte”.

The initiative has been put in place in order to strengthen relationships with the police force and crack down on retail crime – police officers are able to use the staff canteen for their coffees, with the assumption that even the act of having a police car outside the premises will deter shoplifters from opportunistic crimes.

Demanding Action to Counter Retail Theft and Violence[4]

Despite schemes being implemented directly by retailers, the fact remains that for real impact to be made, a lot of responsibility lies with the government.

Retailers across the country are demanding urgent action over rising levels of retail crime with 88 retail leaders from firms such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Primark and Boots signing a letter to our Home Secretary making two demands of the government.

Firstly, the industry wants the government to create a nationwide stand-alone offence of assaulting or abusing  a retailer worker, with tougher sentences implanted for offenders. Secondly, they have asked for greater prioritisation from the police for retail crime.

BRC’s Annual Crime Survey showed that throughout the industry, 44% of retailers rated police response as “poor” or “very poor” and police data showing that, for one major retailer, the police failed to respond to 73% of serious crimes that were reported.

The survey also brought to light that violence and abuse towards retail staff had nearly doubled from pre-pandemic levels to 867 incidents per day in 2021/22.

Without action and attention from those in charge, it can feel to retailers that fighting crime and intimidation in their businesses is like fighting a losing battle. Let’s hope they listen up and take steps to combat this growing issue!



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