The article, ‘Advancing Retail Security Design: Uncovering Shoplifter Perceptions of the Physical Environment’, by Candy Carmel-Gilfilen.M.Arch talks about the study that was to examine shoplifters’ perception of a retail environment and explore the relationship between the store layout and security techniques. Retail stores owners are probably focusing more on how to make the store look more appealing rather than to control the security.In the book ‘Operations Management Fourth Canadian edition’, Stevenson and Hojati mentioned that, “the objective of a retail layout is to account presence of customers and the opportunity to influence sales. Customer flow is an important factor to consider.”(Stevenson & Hojati, 2011). But what is missing is the security design of the store. The purpose of this study is to understand how crucial the store layout is to improve security within the retail environment. The study shows that most shoplifters examine the layout of the store and the evidence of security devices; including formal surveillance, product positioning, security tagging, and employees’ presence before they actually engage in shoplifting activity.This study is conducted based on criminology theories such as: Situational Crime Prevention (SCP), which provides a broad framework for intervention, and also Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), which focuses specifically on design to prevent criminal acts while supporting building functions.“Of 417 consumers, 25% admitted to shoplifting in their lifetime, and 7% admitted to shoplifting within the past year. In addition, more than half of the recent shoplifters acknowledged that they would shoplift again if the retail environment provided the opportunity (including ineffective security), which had contributed significantly to their shoplifting motivation while also playing a major role in their decision to steal from a shop”.(Carmel-Gilfilen M.Arch, 2011)

“This store design simulated natural shopping and spontaneous shoplifting using actual  criminals who detailed their views on perceived risks, security, and design of a retail environment”.(Carmel-Gilfilen M.Arch, 2011)

A well-designed store cannot eliminate, but will minimize, shoplifting. “The most secure environments are created by the use of multiple and complimentary CPTED strategies, this included lowering the heights of gondolas, shelves, and displays to enhance visibility; increasing overall illumination especially at night to create a more welcoming atmosphere and eliminate dark corners; and strategically selecting the location of the employee workstation to increase surveillance”.(Carmel-Gilfilen M.Arch, 2011).The key to increasing protection through store design is integrating its layout with security planning early on in the design process.

Some of the techniques that can be implemented in the early stages of design, according to Candy Carmel-GilfilenM.Arch,are:

  • Product Positioning/Item Accessibility: It is important for retailers to make items accessible to: touch, test, and try-on for customers, but unrestricted access will create a security weakness. To reduce the chance of shoplifting, place popular products in visible areas and limit access to the product by using locks or cords.
  • Place employee stations throughout the store. The benefit of doing this is that it can also improve customer service since the sales associates are available,whenever and almost wherever in the store, they need help.
  • Minimize weak zones and blind spots: Avoid design elements such as high fixtures that block the view. As well, using mirrors within the store to eliminate blind spots and also provide more lighting within the store. This strategy creates the feeling of being watched, which most offenders fear.
  • Placing signage and CCTV: It is important to place signage in specific areas. Examples include signs that indicate shoplifter will be prosecuted or that the store is being monitored by CCTV. As well as placing CCTV surveillance, this sends the message that offenders are being watched, and gives employees the ability to monitor the sales floor.
  • Segmented each department (create territories within the store): segmented each department for example: shoes department is in another different section with the bags department as well as assigning several employees to be in charge in their department. This strategy can also be used to enhance better customer service because the sales associate will always be available when they need them.

Figure 5: Increasing protection through store design (drawing by Candy Carmel-Gilfilen).

Retail shoplifting is a huge problem; it causes a company to face a significant loss. “In 2007, the National Retail Security Survey found that retailers suffered theft and losses of $34.8 billion or 1.44% of its gross revenues to inventory shrinkage losses attributed to shoplifting, employee theft, vendor fraud, and administrative error. Shoplifting alone accounted for 34% of this loss, or around $11.8 billion” (Hollinger & Adams, 2008). Based on the study, store layout plays an important role in preventing shoplifting criminals and it is also indicated that the store layout immediately minimized shoplifting incidents.This study also revealed that both customers’ and employees’ feeling of security had a positive impact on the competitiveness of retail stores. Providing a safe and secure environment is a major factor in store management and design. “Retailers’ main objective should be to ensure that the store makes its customers and employees feel safe. In this way, retailers can enhance their store’s competitiveness.”(Kajalo & Lindblom, 2010).“Each store poses a unique set of security challenges; however, carefully considering security and design synthesis at all stages of design ensures an informed defense”. (Carmel-Gilfilen M.Arch, 2011)

Works Cited

Carmel-Gilfilen M.Arch, C. (2011). Advancing Retail Security Design: Uncovering Shoplifter Perceptions of the Physical Environment. Journal of interior design , 21-38.

Hollinger, R., & Adams, A. (2008). 2007 National Retail Security Survey. Gainesville,FL.

Kajalo, S., & Lindblom, A. (2010). How Retail Entrepreneurs Perceive the Link Between Surveillance, Feeling of Security, and Competitiveness of Retail Store? A Structural Model Approach. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services , 300-305.

Stevenson, W. J., & Hojati, M. (2011). Operations Management fourth Canadian edition. McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

EXAM QUESTION: Name and briefly describe 2 of the 5 techniques that a retail can use to increase its  protection through store design’s security planning.