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industry focus

The perfect storm for increased losses?  Cost-of-living and labour shortages

Loss Prevention professionals are no strangers to the challenges ahead for the remainder of 2022. The predicted rise in shoplifting and criminality, combined with labour shortages is the perfect storm for increased losses in retail this peak season. 

In 2021 The Keyholding Company saw a 36% increase in emergency and temporary guarding job requests from its clients for November and December, compared to September and October. This demonstrates the importance of a reliable physical presence and additional resilience during the peak season.

However, with security officer recruitment and retention issues ongoing and loss prevention risks higher than average at this time of year, how can you ensure your security plan for peak is watertight with adequate suppliers lined up to support you?

A shift in theft demographics and budget allocation

Our retail affiliates and clients advise that the demographic of those committing theft has shifted. Those not previously a threat to losses now are because of rising costs and changing living circumstances.

Mid-value items are now more likely to be stolen for personal use or re-sell, catching up with the theft of higher-value items sold at scale. Furthermore, there has been a change in focus on preventing online fraud rather than shrinkage in stores. 

Considering risk from multiple angles presents a challenge in budget allocation and difficulty for retailers to calculate ROI on the cost of security versus their loss prevention. However, the objective remains the same – reduce losses by implementing measures that keep stock safe.

Labour shortages – an issue set to continue

To effectively tackle losses this peak season it will be essential to have adequate deterrents in stores, warehouses, and distribution centres. Retail officers also ensure the safety of staff and customers, which is particularly critical at this time of year.

The challenges in sourcing high-quality officers at scale have been well documented and recently the labour shortage has become even more pronounced. COVID-19 has exacerbated existing problems and stretched the industry to its limit, resulting in a further reduction in quality workers and a difficult period for security and loss prevention teams who need urgent cover when staff are ill, on annual leave or there is a gap to fill when recruiting.

Mike Roberts, Account Manager at Andron Facilities Management highlights, “Confidence and reassurance for the client are the main priorities and a hot topic. Officers turning up looking professional and being professional is crucial. It gives a good first impression when arriving on the job if they look the part, know their responsibilities, and are briefed.”

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Tackling losses with additional security resilience  

Recruitment struggles, ineffective officers and low resilience bring increased risk and more threats to hitting loss prevention targets. Operating in a state of uncertainty where you don’t know if you’ll get the quality cover you need, especially during Black Friday and Christmas, is not viable.

With labour shortages and guarding suppliers pushed to their limits, it would be naïve to think that having one supplier on hand to help is enough. When absences occur and extra resilience is required, strength in numbers is key. Having more than one guarding supplier reduces the risk of getting caught out because you’ll have a bigger pool to draw on for help.

The Keyholding Company are one of Next’s preferred guarding suppliers. An increase in absence during 2021’s peak period meant Next needed urgent guarding support. Because of our flexible approach and supplier network of 200 partners, we stepped in immediately, providing additional security resilience to secure high-profile and high-risk stores across 60 locations nationwide, including one of their top 10 performing stores in the country. 

Dale Weatherson, Senior Regional Loss Prevention Manager at Next, is clear on the benefit of having suppliers you can count on, “Having a trusted partner to provide consistent, competent security support when we need it most saves time and effort spent trying to find cover.”  

Find out more about The Keyholding Company’s Emergency & Temporary guarding services here or contact us to find out how we can help you cover all bases.

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