The Australian retail sector is now just days away from the commencement of the official Christmas trade period, encompassing the second half of November and all of December.

In recent weeks I’ve used the CEO column to provide helpful hints on how to maximise sales and ensure that your business is running as efficiently as possible over Christmas. Today though I’m going to discuss something that affects the entire retail sector, including small and large businesses, and that’s the scourge of retail theft.

Running a small business is challenging enough without seeing profits walk (literally) out the door due to shoplifting. Christmas time in particular – with the increased foot traffic through your store – is a vulnerable time of the year for retail theft.

While it may be a reality that petty crime will unfortunately always be a thing of life, there are measures that can be implemented to reduce its likelihood and the cost to your business.

Make sure all staff are trained to actively monitor your store. Often a potential shoplifter will pay more attention to the staff than any merchandise on sale. Your employees should not confront a shopper in this instance, but merely keep a close watch on them and this should act as an adequate deterrence. Following on from this, if an employee is actively engaged with a customer, then it is very difficult for the thief to steal as they know they’re being watched.  

Moreover, ensure that your store is as open as possible. Hidden spots out of view are breeding grounds for shoplifters so consider re-arranging parts of your store to remove blind spots. If this is not possible explore installing CCTV cameras. Although this option may come at a price, it may well end up saving you money if a visible camera prevents acts of shoplifting. Also, if you don’t already, consider having a staff member checking bags at the store exit to deter potential shoplifters.

Another measure that can assist in combating retail theft is to collaborate with neighbouring retailers. If someone has shoplifted from your store – or even if you just suspect that someone has – pass on the information to surrounding stores and ask them to do the same with you. This can assist your staff with effectively monitoring suspicious shoppers.

Most importantly, make sure your staff know what to do if they have caught a customer stealing. There should be a store protocol for informing the authorities and employees should not do anything that puts their own safety at risk.

Hopefully none of you reading this will experience the cost and inconvenience associated with retail theft this Christmas, but taking the time to implement some of the measures highlighted above can assist in preventing or at least limiting its impact during this busy period.

 For further information on any queries you may have regarding the Christmas trade period, please do not hesitate to contact the NRA at 1800 RETAIL (738 245).