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Reducing Shoplifting & Internal Theft in Grocery Stores

Every year, more than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers throughout the United States, including grocery stores. In fact, supermarkets lose 1.35 percent of their inventory to theft every year. But since supermarkets have razor-thin margins, any loss is significant.

Shoplifters come in all shapes and sizes and backgrounds, and all have their motives. From experienced shoplifters to one-time impulse thieves to internal theft from employees, grocery store theft is a wide-ranging to try to prevent. Reducing shoplifting in grocery stores takes strategy and effort, but it can be accomplished.

Here’s how to reduce shoplifting in grocery stores:

Invest in Grocery Insurance

Insurance coverage like a Grocers Advantage Program might not prevent theft and financial loss, but it can help grocery stores recover. While this is not a direct strategy to combat shoplifting loss, it can provide financial backing following a significant theft. Since their margins drive grocery stores, getting that money back and protecting against shoplifting loss can help to keep grocery stores in business. 

Prioritize Customer Service

Theft will always be a part of the grocery industry, but stores can minimize this risk by providing hands-on customer service. It may sound obvious, but it is a legitimate strategy. If someone is loitering within a store, going from department to department without a cart or products, it can help if an employee engages with them to see if they need help finding anything. If they are, in fact, a shoplifter, they’ll try to avoid conversation and attention altogether. While this may not completely cut out the potential for theft, it can help grocery stores be more aware.

Reusable Shopping Bags

Reusable shopping bags are great for the environment as they reduce the need for plastic or paper bags. But they can also present potential shoplifting risks for grocery stores. It’s important to keep an eye on those who come in with shopping bags and discourage anyone from carrying items in these bags while they’re in the store. Instead, prompt customers to use the carts and baskets the store provides.

Watch for Clues

There are many different physical indicators that there are shoplifters present when stealing from grocery stores. They can include large shopping bags, standing close to a high-theft item, moving in clusters, and hanging around certain areas for an extended period. A shoplifter may stand very close and at a stooped angle with their hands down in order to conceal an item. If something like this is spotted, employees should be encouraged to walk over to them and ask if they have questions.

 Or, report this activity to a manager.

Dealing with Internal Theft

It can also be discouraging to note that grocery store theft also occurs at the hands of employees. Internal systems that incorporate good cash controls, proper training and supervision and clear policies on theft can deter internal theft. They can create a much more legitimate atmosphere of openness and transparency.

Here are some preventative measures that can be implemented in grocery stores to ensure that internal theft is addressed:

  • Careful and thorough training for new employees, and routine monitoring.
  • Good initial screening systems, which can include verifying past employment and reference checks.
  • Management sign-offs on all voids, refunds, and deposits. Use of refund slips signed by a customer stating the reason for a refund can help as well.
  • Regular inspection of register journal tapes to look for any irregularities. By putting together a pattern of void and refund abuses, grocery stores will be able to understand how internal theft is executed.
  • Limiting access to the store’s safe to a select few employees.
  • Requiring that each customer be given a receipt to help ensure that each sale is documented.

About Irving Weber Associates

At Irving Weber Associates, Inc., we understand what it takes to run a successful grocery, market, or convenience store, including investing in a comprehensive Insurance Program to ensure that they are financially protected against claims. Our program, Grocery Advantage offers overall business insurance coverages including, Food spoilage, General Liability, Property, Liability, Equipment Breakdown, Workers’ Compensation, Business Auto, and many more. For a detailed look at how we can help you safeguard your business with a custom-tailored package, please contact our experts today at (800) 243-1811.