The holiday season is a busy time for retail business, but also for those looking to procure gifts without necessarily paying for them. Stores are often overcrowded and people are extra hurried, making the holiday shopping period a prime time for retail theft.

Below are a few tips from Admiral Security Services to mitigate theft, both internal and external, during the busy holiday shopping season.

Employee Theft:

The biggest threat facing storeowners is employee theft, which accounts for nearly half of inventory shrinkage–more than shoplifters, more than administrative error and more than vendor fraud. Unfortunately, although you may minimize the possibility of employee theft by hiring only people with references that have been checked carefully, this is still not a guarantee. Standard controls should be implemented to detect losses from your cash drawer and inventory. These include:

  • Maintain rotating employee assignments. Team different employees together or with you.
  • Initiate procedures for balancing the cash register or drawer after each employee’s shift.
  • Take physical inventory more often.
  • Check daily receipts against a list of items sold.
  • Randomly monitor the inventory of particular items and compare with sales over a period of time.
  • If you suspect an employee of stealing, randomly audit sales by contacting customers to verify sale details. You may routinely survey customer service.

Don’t be so obsessed with catching a potential thief that you treat your employees with suspicion and disrespect. If so, you will ultimately still see losses in the way of turnover and low productivity.

Shoplifting:

Shoplifters are another story. You’ll have less opportunity to catch them as you won’t necessarily recognize their faces or be on the lookout when one comes into the store. Still, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the temptation for would-be shoplifters.

  • Put items that are easy to shoplift close to the checkout counter.
  • Maintain a good line of sight to sections of your store where desirable items are displayed.
  • Use packaging that is hard to conceal.
  • Make your presence known throughout the store. Don’t hound your customers, but try to wander through the store periodically, greeting customers in a friendly manner.
  • If your losses warrant them, install mirrors and/or closed circuit TV cameras to monitor all portions of your store.
  • Consider using electronic tags with a sensing device at the door, if you are unable to control theft any other way.
  • Pay particular attention to people you do not know, people carrying bags, and mothers with strollers or carriages.
  • Post signs stating your policy of prosecuting shoplifters.

For more information, visit Admiral Security.