The holiday season is upon us, and, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, holiday shoppers are still visiting brick & mortar retail stores and shops. But the pandemic did bring something unintended with it this year… increased instances of economic desperation. Millions of Americans are unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic, making this holiday season even more challenging. The security services industry is already preparing and planning for increased occurrences of crime and shoplifting. If you are responsible for security services in a retail environment, retail loss prevention is always at the top of your punch list during the holidays.
Keeping and eye out for shoplifters and petty thieves is an important component of securing a physical retail store, however most retailers use this time of year to focus on creating special experiences in their stores instead to increase customer interaction and sales. As the holiday shopping season brings increases in sales and traffic, many retailers hire new seasonal employees to cope with their increased volume and overflow. Without running background checks on new hires, increases in new staff can have its own challenges. Theft of cash and inventory by internal and external actors can be devastating for a retailer during the holidays. Cash in a register can be a tempting target. Would-be thieves take temporary seasonal jobs in retail stores and restaurants and they specifically look for operations that have limited or negligent security practices in place or untrained management teams. Restaurants and stores are just as likely to fall victim to their own employees as they are to external wrongdoers and holiday shoplifters.
During the holiday season, there is no replacement for a well-planned and well-executed security and loss prevention program. Here are some holiday loss prevention tips to consider this year to ensure a safe, secure and - let us not forget - profitable holiday season:
- Consider having a background check policy and drug testing policy in place for new hires. A small budget for checking backgrounds can go a long way to preventing future headaches. Just having the program in place sometimes acts as a great deterrent of potential applicants with bad intentions.
- Implement cash handling policies and procedures at the store level. Train all employees on proper handling of cash and deposits, as well as your store’s protocol for inspecting for counterfeit currency. Limit the amount of people that are permitted to handle these types of transactions.
- Keep cash in registers to a safe and useful level. Most retail operations do not need to have thousands of dollars in cash available in their registers. What is the correct amount to provide change for cash purposes? That is all that should be available. The rest should periodically be removed from each register and deposited in a safe place – like a timed safe or strongbox. When it is time to make a bank deposit, be as discrete as possible. Keep bank deposit bags hidden; there is no need to advertise that you are moving money.
- Hire a top retail security guard company that specializes in retail loss prevention and premises security. The best security companies will save your store money – especially during the holidays.
- Monitor each cashier’s behavior for excessive or suspicious voids, returns or refunds. An ill-intentioned employee in cashier’s position could cost a retail store thousands of dollars during the holiday season. Deter bad behavior through policy, procedure, training, and systems.
- Help keep your employees safe by using the buddy system for store openings, bank deposits over a certain amount, and late-night closings. There should always be at least two people working together to keep the other safe and to verify the actions of the other.
- Locks, alarms, surveillance cameras, and video recorders should all be employed to keep a location secure. Make sure that they are tested regularly and working properly.
- Develop a strict procedure for inspecting, locking up and leaving a retail location after business hours. This should be in place and understood by all employees. Limit access to storage areas, loading docks, and inventory rooms. Keep rear entrance doors and gates locked and, if possible, alarmed and/or monitored via security surveillance camera system.
- Have emergency security plans in place and make sure all employees are well-versed in what to do in the event of an emergency. Quiz and coach your employees regularly. What do you do if you witness shoplifting? What do you do if someone tries to rob us by threating violence? Believe it or not – many employees report that they did not know what to do in these situations.
- Consider hiring a security service consultant. A great security consultant can help your team prepare for the holiday sales season, but can also you help improve your chances of retail success, safety and profitability all year long.
Thanks for reading!
Would you like a security services quote? Let us know how we can help!