Tis the season: Using video surveillance to deter holiday retail theft


While the holiday season is often referred to as a season of giving, unfortunately well more than 1 million shoplifters, organized crime rings and dishonest employees target commercial retailers during the holiday shopping season.

The National Retail Federation’s 2019 National Retail Security Survey estimates the industry to face an annual $50 billion impact across inventory-shrinking threats. While the retail industry’s shrink rate has remained steady (near 1.38%) in recent years, the NRF’s latest Organized Retail Crime Survey says activity by organized retail crime rings and gangs is at an all-time high — costing retailers more than $770,000 per $1 billion in sales.

The schemes of shoplifters and dishonest or opportunistic seasonal employees have grown more elaborate, sophisticated and aggressive as opportunities to offload stolen goods have skyrocketed thanks to online marketplaces in an increasingly digital shopping landscape.

If your retail location hasn’t already done so, installing closed-circuit surveillance cameras as part of a full security system is a must-have loss-prevention measure throughout the year, but especially during the holiday shopping season. Video surveillance is one of the most effective deterrent tools at a retailer’s disposal — and advanced, evolving technologies include analytical systems that flag security personnel of suspicious behavior or can upload footage to crowdsourced identification systems for higher rates of law enforcement apprehension.

  • According to the Hayes International Annual Retail Theft Survey, employee thefts costs companies, on average, six times more than a typical shoplifting theft. In addition to systems covering cash registers, front entrances and customer-heavy areas, retailers should be proactive in also installing surveillance around back doors, employee-only hallways and storage spaces. Electronic access control systems are another effective measure for keeping seasonal or part-time workers out of areas they don’t need to be in and tracking traffic throughout a store’s back end.
  • While a festive addition to any retail space, make sure holiday decorations aren’t posing new problems such as blocking surveillance cameras or creating hiding spaces for stolen goods or abandoned packaging.
  • Don’t forget surveillance of parking areas, as FBI data says 4% of all crimes against persons in the US happen in parking lots or garages, and thieves have made a habit of actively targeting distracted shoppers and vehicles during the holiday season.

Establishing effective loss-prevention measures for holiday shopping isn’t just a seasonal process, but year-round strategies and preparedness pays extra importance during December’s busier retail window. Fairchild Communication Systems, Inc. works with industry-leading manufacturers of high-quality surveillance solutions and can customize to your space’s needs to protect your business.

Reach out to our commercial security experts today and let’s get your business protected.