Stores seek help to curb shoplifting

Shoplifting has risen steadily alongside the cost of living in Canada, but police departments and industry groups have said that incidents are also becoming increasingly violent.

Driving the news: The CEO of London Drugs, a BC-based pharmacy, is calling on policymakers to act as shoplifting increasingly puts staff in harm’s way. Incidents have ranged from threats with needles to stabbings to assaults with hatchets.

  • The Retail Council of Canada claims some of its members have seen a 300% increase in shoplifting, with costs totalling more than $5 billion annually industry-wide.

Why it matters: An increase in violence adds a new dimension to the (unpopular) steps retailers have taken to curb shoplifting, as they have to think about protecting staff alongside their bottom lines — with some customers not pleased about being “treated like criminals.”

  • Over the summer, Loblaw brought receipt checks and security gates to its grocery stores, as well as locked cabinets for the most-stolen items at Shoppers Drug Mart.

  • Self-checkouts are also a focus for theft prevention. In addition to checking receipts, retailers are experimenting with closing lanes when it’s busy or ditching them entirely.

  • Target is closing nine stores in the U.S. due to the impacts of shoplifting, while London Drugs refuted earlier reports that it was considering closing some stores.

Big picture: Canadians are largely in favour of more security cameras, anti-theft alarms, security guards, and locked display cases, but oppose limiting store traffic, stowing bags before shopping, or scanning IDs to make purchases. They are relatively split on receipt checks and eliminating self-checkouts.—JK