Early promotions, online shopping and an urge to get a head start on preparing for the holidays are changing the way millions of consumers shop. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, remains the biggest and busiest holiday shopping day of the year. Last year 134 million shopped over the Thanksgiving weekend – 87 million on Black Friday alone, and the National Retail Federation (NRF) is forecasting 2015 holiday sales to rise 3.7 percent this year.
Although some retailers, are bucking the Black Friday trend by closing and encouraging people to get outside, sales that day are still projected to bring in major dollars. Stores welcome the crowds as the weekend can account for anywhere from 20-30% of annual sales for some retailers. But it also brings a significant increase in shoplifting and employee theft.
SOURCE: National Retail Federation (NRF) 2015 Holiday Sales Forecast
Many retailers safeguard themselves with a variety of technologies from commercial security providers like Honeywell. In their efforts to protect their assets and drive profitability, retailers use everything from video surveillance, to alarms, to point-of-sale exception alerts to reduce “shrinkage” – industry jargon for loss of inventory to shoplifting and employee theft. Hosted in a cloud-based platform, Honeywell’s MAXPRO Cloud enables retailers to monitor all of their stores in real-time, even from the convenience of a smart phone. Retailers can also monitor crowd control situations and gain valuable marketing insights by analyzing store traffic patterns.
The NRF recommends that retailers “utilize technology to [their] advantage” when it comes to loss prevention. “Things like CCTV, video analytics and electronic article surveillance are excellent tools to thwart external and internal threats. Sales and customer point-of-sale activity can also be used as a barometer to measure heavy pedestrian traffic times and locations to help assure proper staffing levels are in place and reduce the opportunity for shoplifting.”
Additional holiday loss prevention tips from the NRF include ensuring that your employees are well-trained and equipped to deal with increased customer volume levels. By encouraging loss prevention professionals to be more omnipresent in stores and on the sales floor, retailers are sending a clear message to associates and customers alike that they are taking the protection of their store very seriously. Aspiring thieves have become skilled at suspecting who is a store detective, so when they see that loss prevention employees are out and about, they will move on to another store.
“Whether it’s operating a jewelry shop, a large department store or twelve floors of a shopping mall, we help business owners manage their security from the inside out,” said David Paja, president of Honeywell Security and Fire. “With the increased foot traffic on store floors and changes in staff that the holiday season brings, it’s difficult for business managers to keep a magnifying glass on loss prevention and theft – our security solutions are there to help.”
Video surveillance solutions are the most crucial when it comes to protecting inventory from potential shoplifters. Experienced thieves can quickly learn where the cameras are located in stores and figure out the blind spots, so it’s important to supplement existing surveillance systems with hidden cameras. And when shoplifting is detected, video alarm verification technology is also necessary to give owners and police the ability to go back in time and see the crime that was captured, and more importantly, to alert law enforcement agencies immediately to the incident.
Loss prevention, inventory management and burglary protection are all areas that can be monitored and controlled with security technology, but it’s also important to have a detailed staffing plan in place in case the crowds get out of control. Hiring security personnel with experience in crowd management or requesting police presence onsite is also a good practice if retailers anticipate large crowds.
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