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Supermarkets, pharmacies feel the pinch as retail theft escalates

Retail theft is on the rise in Australia.
Retail theft is on the rise in Australia.

Retail theft is on the rise in Australia as the economic crisis drives more consumers to turn to shoplifting. According to the latest Australia and New Zealand Retail Crime Survey, the average reported crime-related losses for the 2018-2018 financial year amounted to $3.37 billion.

Now with the more than 1 million Australians out of work, retailers are facing an uphill battle to prevent these lost sales. The war to also keep products safe from potential thieves is still raging with the arrival of the pandemic bringing more uncertainty.

Supermarkets and pharmacies in particular, are feeling the strain.

Meat has been one of the most-stolen fresh-food products from the Australian supermarkets and specialty stores.

“This year, we’ve really seen it move to more of a subsistence theft, people are stealing household goods and food because they’re really needing these products to subsist,” said Mark Stafford, northern region sales director at Checkpoint Systems.

Theft of beauty products has also increased this year, particularly with cosmetics, perfume, false eye lashes and face creams are all items that have been reported by many pharmacies.

And it’s not just professional shoplifters that are the culprits.

“People are getting more desperate and hence we are seeing a lot more interest in our products which display items safely without being stolen.”

While self-checkouts have arguably made it easier to steal products, concealment remains the most popular form of theft.

Checkpoint’s RF Electronic article surveillance (EAS) and radio frequency tags have proven popular in securing items, as an alarm goes off when the product leaves the store without being passed through the checkout scanner. Discrete security labels can be applied on meat products. Most of the items in pharmacies can be protected with a combination of RF labels & Keepers which keep the product secured while still being on open display.

Many retailers, particularly in remote areas of Queensland, are also battling a chroming epidemic, which is causing great distress to retail staff and impacting sales.

“Offenders as young as 12 and 13 are coming into stores to inhale the chemicals from deodorants as it gives a high. Chroming can be fatal. It’s quite scary how it’s impacting these outlying towns.” Stafford said.

“It’s very confronting for retail staff and very sad to hear the cases. Some offenders are coming in already high on inhaling deodorant fumes, being aggressive and looking for more deodorant to steal and to sell and supply to others,” Stafford said.

Signage in store and on the products themselves is an important deterrent, but Stafford said it’s important to train staff to deal with situations like these.

Queensland police have put some measures in place to reduce occurrences of this offence and to educated the retailers about how to combat the issue but many retailers feel helpless. Many retailers have opted to take items off display but that presents a challenge for sales.

“They’ve got to be realistic about supplying the honest customers that actually want to buy the products,” Stafford said.

Checkpoint manufactures transparent security keepers which can lock in the deodorants and perfumes until they are sold. This enables customers to see the product while still keeping the product locked and safe.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Checkpoint Systems has also introduced a portfolio of Safer Shopping technologies. Solutions to manage dispensing of sanitiser, solutions to maintain & monitor occupancy levels and also thermal imaging cameras, all can help businesses operate safely during these testing times.

Contact Mark Stafford at +61 405 539 913 to protect your stores today.

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