What's your Back-to-School strategy?
Back-To-School: what that means for your Loss Prevention
By Tom Bolanos
By Tom Bolanos
“Back to School” usually means big business for any retailer from electronics to office supplies as well as shoes, backpacks and apparel. This year, the Coronavirus could push back-to-school spending to record level as uncertain families gear up for at-home learning, according to the annual Back-to-School survey by the National Retail Federation. Consumers are planning to spend a record amount on laptops and computer accessories in anticipation that at least some classes will take place online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The average family with children in elementary school through high school is planning to spend $789.49 per family, topping last year’s record of $696.70. For families with college kids, the number is even higher, with families planning to spend an average of $1,059.20 per family. Total spending for K-12 and college combined is projected to reach $101.6 billion – exceeding last year’s $80.7 billion and topping the $100 billion mark for the first time, according to NRF’s Back-to-School Spending Survey.
Brick-and-mortar stores closed by the pandemic have begun reopening, So, inventory is high, the demands are large and the opportunity for thieves even bigger. Some even call the months of July, August, and September the “super shoplift season.”
With many school districts and colleges across the nation still deciding whether to reopen their classrooms in the fall, 40 per cent of the consumers surveyed expect to receive the list of required school supplies by the end of July and another 30 per cent by the end of August – information that could reflect schools’ reopening plans and affect how much consumers actually spend. With families with school-age children waiting longer to buy supplies, this could mean more customers in the store at the same time.
Traditionally, with school starting anywhere from the middle of August to mid-September, businesses are usually busy running special sales. However, whenever there are significant sales and many customers, there are also many opportunities for shoplifting and employee theft. Here are some actionable tips on how you can prepare your business from a loss prevention standpoint:
Schedule store-wide or departmental meetings before the sales begin to remind every single employee of your policy towards shoplifting. If you don’t have a policy regulating how each member of your organization should conduct themselves when facing a shoplifting or fraud situation, you should develop one as quickly as possible.
It should outline who is authorized to approach suspected thieves, what the protocol is for your security guards, and how you will deal with employee theft and sweethearting. If you have an EAS system in place that does not automatically monitor its status, include a daily testing protocol as well.
Most retailers that are using RF-based EAS solutions have a low tagging level of 20-40% of their high-value and most likely-to-be-stolen merchandise. However, increasing the number of products that have a security label on them will help deter thieves as well as make your store overall safer.
Retail stores are increasingly enforcing social distancing regulations by limiting the number of shoppers on their premises to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus. If you operate a retail store, you can protect public health by installing a real-time occupancy monitoring system that helps you to enforce social distancing guidelines as well as occupancy restrictions.
With many of us working from home, now could be a good moment to look into monitoring your systems remotely, plan remote store visits or scheduling remote interviews. We provide an online platform that enables our business partners to solve 81% of the service calls remotely, without the need to dispatch a technician to the store.
Have you found a way to fight shoplifting in this busy time that was particularly successful? Or maybe you have tried something that did not go as planned? Please share with us and your peers – we would love to continue the discussion.