US Retailers Increase In-Store Security Measures

Facing brazen and widely reported thefts, retailers are deploying a variety of new deterrents while also balancing these measures with the need to maintain an inviting shopping environment for consumers. 

The deterrents include installing surveillance systems, putting more items behind glass, using steel cables to lock products to shelves and displaying empty boxes that shoppers can carry to a cashier to get the item, Reuters reported Wednesday (Nov. 23). 

These moves have come in response to headline-grabbing “smash and grab” incidents in which large numbers of thieves have rushed into a store and stolen items, according to the report. 

The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported a 26.5% increase in “organized retail crime” last year, while some states have raised the minimum dollar amount at which they will pursue felony charges, the report said. 

At the same time, both shoppers and the manufacturers of the products on the shelves have voiced displeasure with the measures taken by retailers — saying they complicate the buying process and discourage sales, according to the report. 

Consumers have complained on social media about the difficulty of finding a retail staffer to unlock the items they want to buy, while manufacturers are rolling out new displays that will encourage retailers to keep products accessible to shoppers rather than locked away, the report said. 

Both the thefts and the cost of deterrence come at a time when retailers are already faced with rising costs and fading consumer demand. 

As PYMNTS reported in December, the spate of retail theft led 21 CEOs from some of the nation’s biggest retailers to ask for help from Congress. 

“This trend has made retail businesses a target for increasing theft, hurt legitimate businesses who are forced to compete against unscrupulous sellers, and greatly increased consumer exposure to unsafe and dangerous counterfeit products,” the group said.