California has legislation that will ban the practice of giving single use, plastic bags to carry purchased products from a store. Instead, grocers an the like will be required to have reusable shopping bags available for customer purchase, or charge a minimal fee per paper bag used to carry purchases. While there are many concerns posed to this new regulation, one of them is whether making customers carry their own bags around the store with them will lead to an increase in shoplifting incidents.
The concept of a reusable shopping bag is not new. Many grocers and retailers have been hopping on the “green” bandwagon for many years now. Some grocers in other states have even given a bag discount to shoppers who use their own bag instead of a paper or plastic one for the store. These stores who have voluntarily been encouraging their shoppers to bring reusable bags with them have not publicly reported an increase to their shrink numbers as a result, but that does not mean that those incidents are not happening.
As more retailers sell reusable bags, customers are bringing those same bags along with them on other shopping trips. Even if your particular store does not sell or encourage reusable bags, you can plan on their usage at some point in your store as their popularity with shoppers increases.
This is a prime example of how retail theft prevention needs to be more than a simple EAS device. It needs to stay on top of current trends to understand how different methods of loss can affect your store so you can be prepared to stop shoplifting.
To tackle the issue of shoplifters utilizing a shopping bag to conceal and steal merchandise, one must understand that this is not a new concept. Shoplifters have been using their own backpacks, purses, and duffels to steal product well before reusable bags became popular. Another trick was for shoplifters to take store plastic bags from cash wrap and then stuff merchandise into those- making it seem like they had actually purchased the items inside.
The flip side is that many legitimate customers come back into a store with a store plastic bag with merchandise to be returned. Sometimes the customer will take the bag and the product through the sales floor to find the merchandise they would like to exchange it with.
Because of this and other customer service issues, simply prohibiting customers from walking around the store with bags is not only a logistical nightmare but is not a practical or efficient was to stop shoplifting. In fact you will probably loose more paying customers by offending them, than you will deter shoplifters.
Actual shoplifters are sneaky, and will only hide their bags until they need to conceal merchandise within them, if all bags are prohibited on the sales floor. A better option is to allow customers to keep their bags with them, but maintain vigilance on how they are used. A warning flag would be if the customers are opening their bags or putting things inside of them. Most typical shoppers will keep all of their bags folded up together (or folded inside one of their bags) until it is time to check out.
Visit the Loss Prevention Store to purchase Anti-Shoplifting devices and your Electronic Article Surveillance or EAS system from Checkpoint Systems to stop shoplifting in your store.
For more information on Anti-Shoplifting, Checkpoint Labels, a Checkpoint Security System, Checkpoint Security Tags, Checkpoint Systems, or Checkpoint Tags and how they can work with your Electronic Article Surveillance or EAS system contact us at Retail theft prevention to Stop Shoplifting in your store or call 1.770.426.0547