The fear of a shoplifting surge has been gripping the business community as the effects of the ongoing pandemic take hold. Many business owners and managers have expressed a concern that shoplifters may become emboldened or encouraged by the current economic hardship. While this fear is understandable, is it actually grounded in reality?
A recent study conducted by the University of Economics in Prague found that there has been no evidence of a significant increase in shoplifting across Europe during the pandemic. In fact, in some countries, such as the Czech Republic, the incidence of shoplifting has actually decreased during the pandemic, indicating that business owners may be overstating the problem. The same trend was seen in the US, as the National Retail Federation reported a decrease in shoplifting in 2020.
So why then is the fear of a shoplifting surge so pervasive? Experts suggest that many business owners are suffering from a psychological phenomenon called “catastrophizing”; this refers to an individual’s tendency to overestimate the likelihood of the worst possible outcome. In this case, the fear of a shoplifting crisis has been amplified due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
However, that doesn’t mean that business owners should not take precautionary measures against shoplifting. Simple steps such as, reducing paths of entry for potential shoplifters, investing in loss prevention technology and having well-trained staff can all help mitigate the risk of shoplifting.
Overall, the fear of a shoplifting surge appears to be running away from the facts. While business owners should remain vigilant, there is currently no evidence to suggest that the current economic upheaval has led to an increase in shoplifting.