If you think shoplifting is just for kids and candy bars, think again. The truth about retail theft is shocking. Some $35 million worth of goods are lifted every single day from supermarkets to department stores – and some of the hardest-hit businesses are small, independent retailers. Today, we’ll learn of the on-the-ground impact of shoplifting, and how Dallas boutiques are taking action.
Shocking is a strong word, but shocked we were upon learning of the following shoplifting statistics via the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP):
- More than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers each year. That’s more than $35 million per day.
- Shoplifting affects more than the offender. It overburdens the police and the courts, adds to a store’s security expenses, costs consumers more for goods, costs communities lost dollars in sales taxes, and hurts children and families.
- Shoplifters say they are caught an average of only once in every 48 times they steal. They are turned over to the police 50% of the time.
- The vast majority of shoplifters are “non-professionals” who steal, not out of criminal intent, financial need, or greed, but as a response to social and personal pressures.
The impact of shoplifting upon national chains cannot be underestimated, but small businesses are often hurt comparatively more by theft. Whether thrill-seeking first-timers or serial offenders, shoplifters are a major concern for small boutique owners in the Dallas area.
“Shoplifting is an incredibly inconsiderate and selfish act,” states Lucy Huang, owner of Accents Boutiques. With locations in Dallas’ West Village and Southlake Town Square, Accents’ selection includes jewelry and accessories both on-trend and, perhaps, especially tempting to shoplifters due to its portable nature. Huang estimates a 0.5% inventory loss per year due to shoplifting – but thieves don’t always stop at items on the sales floor.
“[This issue] affects our ability to conduct business in many ways,” the local businesswoman expands. “We have also experienced theft of personal property, including employees’ phones and wallets, credit card fraud, and return fraud.”
Lindsey Harrison, owner of popular Uptown boutique Krimson & Klover, experiences losses in the thousands of dollars each year due to shoplifting. Taking us to the matter of security and prevention, both she and Huang utilize a combination of technology and manpower to deter theft.
“We have cameras in the store, and staff members are not supposed to be behind the desk when customers are shopping,” says Harrison of her anti-theft measures. Her instructions to Krimson & Klover staffers are simple: “Be up, moving, and helping the customer.”
Huang also knows that good customer service equals good loss prevention. She explains, “The best way to combat shoplifting is to take steps to prevent the incidents. We do that by delivering excellent, personable customer service to show the would-be shoplifter that we are paying very close attention.” Noting that organization is another key component, she cautions, “A messy and unorganized store is a shoplifter’s paradise.”
Despite this diligence, however, the shoplifting losses still add up for small boutiques. It’s also worth noting that 57% of adults and 33% of juveniles say it is hard for them to stop shoplifting even if they’re caught in the act. Appealing to the personal side of the issue, we asked Huang and Harrison one final question: If you could send a message to a potential shoplifter right now, what would you say?
Huang answers from the heart, “As a small business, we like to appeal to the human conscience, and would like to think that a typical shoplifter does have a conscience, deep down. I have signs in the fitting room that say, ‘Before you consider shoplifting, know that we are a small locally owned business supporting local families.’”
Showing her Texas spirit, Harrison asserts, “If you come into my store and I catch you stealing, I will not stop until the worst punishment is brought upon you via Texas State Law. It is worth quite a lot of money in legal fees to make sure that you pay for your crime.”
In closing, we hope that today’s story has brought attention to this severity of this issue, including the fact that shoplifting impacts small businesses in a big way. A final word from Lucy Huang to would-be thieves hits home: “Regardless of the size of the business you choose to violate, you are not stealing from an institution, ‘the man,’ or the ‘evil corporation.’ You are stealing from hardworking business owners, managers, and employees, who don’t deserve to be personally violated by your selfless acts.”