With retail violence and abuse incidents on the rise, retail business insurer NFU Mutual is warning employers to prepare staff for violence and abuse ahead of Black Friday sales this November and advising consumers to act with respect.
The British Retail Consortium’s latest Retail Crime Survey announced a 28 per cent rise in the overall cost of retail crime since 2018. Retail violence was the key concern of members, with over 42,000 violent incidents reported in the industry. Non-violent abuse incidents are also on the rise, with reported occurrences reaching 100,000 for the first time.
Frank Woods, Retail Specialist at NFU Mutual said, “we would urge employers to assess whether their staff are appropriately trained to deal with incidents. Such training can be crucial to a retailer’s reputation – our research found that almost a third of customers (31%) wouldn't revisit a store that handled an incident of violence poorly, as they wouldn't feel safe or confident in the ability of the team to protect them.
“A lot of the aggression seen in retail violence seems to stem from customer’s mistrusting the quality or cost of a product. Employees may also be on the receiving end of anger that is unrelated to the transaction. This makes Black Friday a cause for concern - the rush and competition of getting the best deals may stain customer emotions and put staff at increased risk of abuse.”
The NFU Mutual study also found that 74 per cent of consumers would either physically (34%) or verbally (40%) intervene if a member of staff was being attacked by another customer. While these good intentions are commendable, they present a challenge for businesses as such situations could very easily get out of hand.
NFU Mutual provides the following advice to help prevent retail crime:
- Be safe and secure with cash
When moving cash, have a working process, and ensure staff are trained and following it at all times. Where possible, have more than one staff member on hand.
- Keep the property secure
Physical security is often overlooked, but it can be very easy to significantly improve. If your shop has a side or rear entrance, make sure it’s well-lit and secure when not in use, and that any fencing that protects the area is secure.
- Use technology to improve security
New remotely-monitored systems could be an attractive option for smaller shops or remote outlets with a small amount of staff. This would give added security to businesses which, day-to-day are more isolated or that staff are not able to monitor at all times. A panic alarm can also be a great tool for staff to respond to the threat of violent crime when it happens.
- Create the perfect shop layout
Simple adjustments to the layout of the shop can make it much easier for staff to stay on top of safety needs. Make sure that the whole shop is well lit, and the cashier has a clear line of sight down the aisles, particularly with any high-value goods or alcohol.
- Keep staff trained and informed
Proper training will make sure staff are fully aware of what their responsibilities are. Make sure that they understand that their physical safety and security is far more valuable than cash or items in the shop.
For an explanatory video, visit www.nfumutual.co.uk/retailviolence