Psychology of Shoplifting and How Retailers Prevent It From Happening

Raffy Wolfe Shopper Safety, Store Owners Leave a Comment

Theft has been a long-time enemy of retailers and business owners. Their war was an unending battle of hide and seeks and ‘catch me if you can.’

It was an essential knowledge for a store owner on what to do and how to fight against something as broad, undetermined, and inevitable as shoplifting. So, where do you even begin? Here, we’ll learn and understand the reasons why people shoplift and some strategies to prevent an encounter and possible loss.

So, why do people steal?

Shockingly, studies found that almost 80% of shoplifters say they had no intention of committing a crime before entering the store. Meaning their shoplifting is unintentional, or at least, could be deterred. It also shows that less that 5% of shoplifters fit the stereotypical criminal profile — those who steal so they can resell the item for cash or drugs. So what are other reasons why people shoplift? Some of the top reasons include:.

  1. Financial difficulty– simply they can’t afford the item or they need to make some money out of it.
  2. Low risk– because they think that it’s a crime that rarely gets caught
  3. Peer pressure– because they want to prove loyalty or bravery to their peers
  4. Emotional problems- because they are seeking a temporary thrill
  5. Kleptomania – because of a psychological disorder

So, knowing that, the next question will be is what can retailers do to prevent shoplifting? Here are a few steps that retailers can take to curb shoplifting in their stores:

Welcoming the Customers

It is important to acknowledge customers when they enter the store much more than plain good customer service. Sure, greeting customers makes them feel welcome, but it also tells potential shoplifters that staff can see them. That verbal and visual acknowledgement can sometimes be enough to scare potential shoplifters into rethinking their actions.

Adequate Staffing

As we mentioned earlier, one of the easiest ways for shoplifters to get away with stealing is when store staff and other customers are distracted. One of the most effective ways to prevent shoplifting is to make sure there are enough number of employees on the floor and that staff are well assigned in different department or areas. Big retail sotres often assign specific floor sections to employees so that they’re responsible for welcoming and assisting all customers that enter that specific area.

Store Positioning

The layout of a store can affect the success of shoplifters. Below are things to consider when doing store layouts:

  • Place highly desirable items in one section and assign staff to closely watch the aisle or area, and design the area in a way so there’s only one entry/exit point.
  • Place mirrors in blind spots.
  • Hang anti-theft propaganda to deter shoplifting in unattended corners.
  • Keep store windows clear and free from distractions.
  • Position checkout counter by the entrance of the store to require customers to pass by before leaving.

Limited Changing Room Items

Implement a store policy that limits the number of items that a customer can take inside the changing room. Instruct the staff to count out the number of items and hang or fold them so that each item is visible inside the dressing room.

When the customer is done fitting the items, ask them to bring all of the items out of the change room and have staff count them quickly so that the same number of item are returned.

Trained Staff

The most essential tip is to educate staff that interacts with customers on loss prevention. Training employees on shoplifting traits and providing a store policy on how to handle these customers is a retailer’s most effective tool. Simply having a staff member approach a suspicious customer and ask them can help deter shoplifting without directly accusing the suspect.

Staff should be vigilant to know that if they see a customer steal something, they must inform their manager immediately and not chase down the shoplifter. Hopefully, knowing all these, you can know be more prepared to safe keep your store.

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