How frontline managers are aiming to prevent theft

Zachary Russell
Digital Editor
Zach Russell headshot
retail theft
Retail managers have employed a number of new methods to help prevent retail theft.

Retail theft saw a large spike last year, with the National Retail Federation reporting $112.1 billion in theft losses in 2022, a large increase from $94.5 billion in 2021. Frontline retail managers recognize the problem, but how are they responding?

A new survey from frontline enablement solution provider Axonify found that two-thirds (70%) of the 300 frontline managers surveyed claim they or their staff have witnessed an increase in theft within the last year, with 85% believing that theft and customer violence are growing issues in the industry overall. 

Nearly half (49%) of frontline managers say they or their staff have seen an increase in theft and customer violence in the past 30 days alone. While more than a third (38%) of frontline managers reported their store as having been victim to petty theft or shoplifting, 41% reported their store had fallen victim to organized retail crime.

Approximately 45% of frontline managers reported workers being caught stealing items from the store. More than half (52%) say they’ve formed new theft policies and prevention loss methods to ensure newly hired seasonal workers do not steal, with 37% of frontline managers voicing concern that new seasonal workers could steal from their store, and 22% reporting that some seasonal workers already have.

To combat growing theft, retail managers reported taking a number of initiatives. Six-in-10 (61%) said they are locking away more products to prevent theft, while 42% reported closing down their store or certain locations due to an increase in theft and/or customer violence. Six-in-10 (60%) of frontline managers said their store has created an anonymous tip line resource for workers and the public to report issues of theft in their store.

More than half (54%) of those surveyed reported hiring outside security to protect their store and workers from theft and violence, with more than six-in-10 (63%) reporting collaborating with law enforcement to track or solve theft-related issues.

Despite the growing concerns, Axonify’s survey found that managers are increasingly relying on employee training to mitigate theft. More than half (66%) of frontline managers report increasing employee training this year around handling instances of theft and customer violence. A similar number (64%) believe their staff is capable of properly handling and reporting instances of theft today.

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