Shoplifting has long been a concern for retailers, but a new trend is emerging among the middle classes as faulty self-checkouts provide an opportunity for well-off shoppers to walk out without paying for items. Faulty scanners that fail to register all their items are tempting some customers to rationalize their actions, leading to an increase in shoplifting incidents. While the exact cause of this phenomenon is unclear, it is becoming a global problem.
Retailers are grappling with a surge in crime, and Marks & Spencer (M&S) Chairman Archie Norman believes that self-checkouts play a significant role: “You see it with the self-checkouts, there’s a little bit of that creeping in,” he stated. However, M&S stores are not the primary target for criminal gangs. They prefer stealing branded spirits and beauty products, which are less prevalent in M&S stores due to their focus on own-brand products.
In response to this growing concern, supermarkets are implementing innovative strategies to combat shoplifting. Waitrose has trained its staff to identify customers attempting to exploit self-scanning systems by scanning cheaper alternatives. Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have installed security gates that require shoppers to scan their receipts before exiting the store. These security measures aim to deter theft and raise awareness of the consequences.
M&S, on the other hand, has chosen a different approach. They believe in maintaining an open and welcoming environment rather than resembling “prison camps” with additional barriers and surveillance. Instead, they focus on smaller-scale solutions, such as positioning high-value items strategically and ensuring visibility.
While the retail industry strives to address this issue, it faces challenges with the limitations of law enforcement’s response to shoplifting. Retailers have taken matters into their own hands, spending an additional £700m on security measures, including security staff, CCTV, and anti-crime technology. However, theft rates continue to rise.
It is essential for retailers to find sustainable solutions that balance security and customer experience. The future may require a combination of technology advancements, law enforcement cooperation, and changes in societal attitudes towards shoplifting.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Why is shoplifting increasing among the middle classes?
Shoplifting among the middle classes is on the rise due to faulty self-checkouts that fail to register all items correctly, tempting customers to rationalize their actions.
2. How are supermarkets combating shoplifting?
Supermarkets are implementing various measures, such as training staff to spot customers exploiting self-scanning systems, installing security gates requiring receipt verification, and strategically positioning high-value items for better visibility.
3. What is Marks & Spencer’s approach to addressing shoplifting?
Marks & Spencer focuses on maintaining an open and welcoming store environment instead of adding additional barriers and surveillance. They employ smaller-scale solutions, such as strategic item placement.
4. Are shoplifting rates increasing despite increased security measures?
Yes, shoplifting rates continue to rise despite retailers spending an additional £700m on security measures. This highlights the need for a comprehensive solution involving technology, law enforcement cooperation, and societal change.