10 Solutions for Combatting Retail Theft

By Sal Crish | Originally posted on My Total Retail (mytotalretail.com)

Major retailers reported record levels of retail theft in 2023, and it seems that the problem is only worsening by the day. According to a 2023 National Retail Security Survey, retail losses swelled to $112.1 billion in 2022, up a staggering 19 percent from $93.9 billion the year prior. Popular retail chains like Target, Kohl’s, Dollar Tree, Nordstrom, and Walmart are taking serious action to combat this problem. And while the most viable and effective solutions don’t come cheap, the cost is nothing compared to the costs of inventory losses; the impacts to team safety, engagement and retention; and the loss of repeat customers.

Some companies are even choosing to close store locations in the face of rising theft. Target has stated it will close nine store locations in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland due to this pervasive issue.

A number of solutions exist to address this problem, and we’ll run through 10 of them below. But to find the best solution mix for your particular store and circumstances, it’s always your best bet to reach out to an expert team of professionals with a proven track record in this field.

Front Entrance Solutions

Your store’s front entrance isn’t just your first line of defense against theft — it’s also your first chance to make a strong impression to would-be thieves. What message does your front entrance send to the criminally inclined? Are you presenting clear deterrents to theft that make them think twice? Consider the following solutions for your store’s front entrance:

  1. Install a “smash and grab” deterrent system to stop forced entry in its tracks.
  2. Consider security window film and security shields to reinforce your windows.
  3. A tried-and-true rolling shutter or folding grille can help provide an additional barrier.
  4. Fortified stainless steel deadlocks and deadbolts can keep aluminum doors truly secure.

Interior Solutions

A store’s interior design, setup and inventory is as unique and individual as the retailer itself. The security solutions that will work for the interior of a Target store simply may not be as effective for the interior of a Costco. For this reason, it’s critical to find a partner that provides customizable and flexible interior security solutions. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Consider utilizing locking glass sliding doors to showcase your inventory without exposure.
  2. Heavy duty SFIC deadbolt drawer locks can be installed to keep surplus inventory secure.
  3. Connect hook locks that use keys (instead of magnets) to secure high-risk items.

Back-of-House Solutions

While the front entrance is typically top of mind for retailers, it’s important not to lose sight of security when it comes to your back of house. Too often, retail store back doors are hollow metal — which means they’re extremely easy to breach, especially if a criminal comes prepared with the right tools. Here are a few solutions designed specifically for fortifying your back of house:

  1. Upgrade your back door from a hollow metal door to a heavier solid door.
  2. Install a stainless steel trident device on your back door. Choose one with multipoint locks that bolts to the door frame instead of the floor to reduce the risk of malfunctioning.
  3. Add visible cameras and motion sensor lights high overhead.

Erik Nordstrom, CEO of luxury department store chain Nordstrom, summed up the challenges of the current climate on the retailer’s August 2023 earnings call: “Losses from theft are at historical highs,” Nordstrom said. “I’d say we find it unacceptable, and it needs to be addressed.”

How will your company address retail theft in 2024 and beyond?

Sal Crish is the national director at TrueSource.