Preventing Theft in Retail Businesses

Theft is rampant among all retail businesses and optical is no exception. Here we share a number of steps you can take to keep product, and dollars, from walking.

Tip: Be especially vigilant during opening, closing, and restocking times

$127.36the average value of a single item stolen by shoplifters in 2015.

How much is really being taken? Fashion accessories, including eyewear, experience the second highest rate of retail loss in the U.S. Known as the five-finger discount, the University of Florida reports that shoplifting accounts for more than 40% of total retail shrinkage. According to the 28th Annual Retail Theft Survey, retail theft from shoplifters (as opposed to employees) rose 2% in 2015. The good news, if there is any, is that $200 million of product was apprehended from thieves who stole it from the country’s largest retailers in 2015. The average value of a single item lifted was $127.36. So, what can you do to prevent shoplifting in your location?

  • DISPLAY SIGNAGE referring to the fact that you have security and that shoplifters will be prosecuted. One company, Loss Prevention Systems, Inc., has a sign that says, “Don’t Shoplift!!! I own a large piece of land and a backhoe.” While that’s a little over the top, unless your clientele knows you have a deranged sense of humor, it certainly does make an impression.


  • SECURITY SYSTEMS need to be very visible to customers and patients. Use signage to make sure they know you have a security system in place. While we’re not suggesting this, more than one business has installed cameras and in-your-face systems that aren’t really hooked up, but send a strong mitts-off message nonetheless.


  • INSTALL A BELL or chime if you have an entry area where staff might not see everyone as they come in. That may sound low tech, but it’s one more deterrent to would-be thieves.


  • BE VIGILANT, while also being friendly, by greeting every customer and looking at them in the eye. Be especially vigilant during opening, closing, and restocking times. They are seen by shoplifters as good times to help themselves to your inventory.


  • INCREASE VISIBILITY of all your eyewear by placing shorter displays closer to the register and taller displays along the perimeters. And, if you know certain lines are the most attractive to sticky fingers, move them to a spot where staff and management can keep an eye on them. For that reason, more and more businesses have relocated their registers to a spot near an exit. That makes it a bit easier to keep a watchful eye on would-be walking eyewear.


  • LOOK FOR PATTERNS that are common to shoplifters. Signs include nervous behavior, darting vision, seemingly aimless wandering, long stares at staff and other customers, repeated entering and leaving the premises, and moving to and from out-of-the-way and difficult-to-monitor areas. Another challenging scenario? If a group enters and you are short on dispensary staff, ask someone from the back office to help you keep an eye on them.


Have you had shoplifters in your location? How did you handle the situation? And, what have you done to safeguard your priciest product? Please share and join in the conversation on Facebook here.



Erinn Morgan

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