Avoiding Retail Theft During the Holidays

This may be the season of giving for many, but for too many others, it’s the season of taking. As many retailers know, theft numbers spike around the end of the year. Almost $9 billion in losses is expected for the U.S. alone.

Holiday taking comes in three varieties:

  • Employees. Most stealing is done by the people entrusted to handle the merchandise. They will walk out the door with products after their shift is over or figure out a more discreet way to take your profits home. As an example, a cashier might work with an accomplice by not ringing up some of the items brought through the checkout line. $4.65 billion in losses is projected here.
  • Shoplifters. Cameras and electronic tagging will stop some, but won’t eliminate the problem entirely. This kind of theft can be premeditated but more often is opportunity-based. Also, employees who lack adequate diligence will let shoplifters walk out the door unchallenged. About $3.75 billion in losses is expected here.
  • Supply chain fraud: This would include theft by organized crime. Not as common, but contributing to about $400 million in loss

The three most likely targets for theft are alcohol, women’s clothing and fashion accessories, and toys.

Given that most shrink is attributable to employees, it’s critical that businesses identify which job applicants are likely to engage in that kind of behavior. Ideally, no one with those tendencies would be hired. Integrity testing is a great way to screen prospective employees for counterproductive inclinations. 

What measures do you take to minimize theft at your store?

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