How can retailers and shopping centres tackle increasing shoplifting and anti-social behaviour?

How can retailers and shopping centres tackle increasing shoplifting and anti-social behaviour?

Shoplifting has become a significant concern for the retail sector, with incidents on the rise in recent years.  According to the British Retail Consortium, shop thefts have more than doubled over the past three years, costing retailers around £953 million annually.

 The COVID-19 pandemic does appear to have had an impact on shoplifting.  According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, retailers experienced an increase in organised retail crime incidents by an average of 26.5% in 2021.  Additionally, eight out of ten retailers reported an increase in violence and aggression associated with these incidents.

The Co-op reported its highest-ever levels of retail crime, shoplifting, and antisocial behaviour in the first half of 2023. They claimed that police failed to respond to 71% of serious retail crimes.  The rise in shoplifting has been attributed to a combination of factors, including organised criminal gangs taking advantage of threadbare policing and a cost of living crisis.

Lucy Brown, JLP’s director of security, was quoted in the Guardian saying  “UK retailers spend around £1bn a year in lost stock, plus a further £700m a year in measures to prevent crime” so the cost to retailers is clearly significant and will impact on profitability.

From talking to Landlords ourselves, we are aware that most shopping centre schemes will have experienced substantial increases in the number of removals of individuals and acts of violence being dealt with by their security staff.

A number of retailers have expressed concern that manned shopping centre security is not proving to be effective in tackling the problem.  With that cost being a significant part of the service charge, thoughts turn to how that money might be better spent.

Tackling this requires both retailers and centre owners to strengthen the relationship between their store managers/staff, centre security and the local police.  Not reporting incidents of shoplifting results in a disconnect between retailers and the police.  There will need to be improvements in the sharing of information, such as CCTV footage, technology to identify prolific offenders and tailored policing solutions to confront the challenge to the sector.

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