Retail Theft at Christmas – How to Protect Your Business

Retail Theft
Retail Theft increases during the Christmas period

Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, goodwill and cheer but for a lot of retailers, it is quite the opposite. As the shops get busier and demand gets higher, there are some people who will take advantage of this for their own gain. We’re talking about shoplifters and thieves.

At this incredibly busy time of year, business owners have enough on their plates without the added stress of having to worry about an increase in theft. There are ways that you can reduce the likelihood of your business falling victim to theft but before you can do this, it is important to understand the potential impact that these types of crimes can have on the retail sector.

Retail Theft Facts And Figures

It has been reported that UK retailers collectively lost around £1 billion in 2012 at Christmas time because of theft and related issues. That is a shocking amount of money but what a lot of people don’t realise is that the financial loss doesn’t end with businesses. In fact, this impact could be seen in the expenses of families at Christmas with each UK family having had to spend a further £38 over the festive season as a direct result of these crimes. As if Christmas wasn’t expensive enough already!

But when we fast forward, it isn’t difficult to see that these figures have only grown over time. By 2019, a shocking £5.5 billion was lost to shoplifting in the UK alone over the festive period. The cost to the average UK customer skyrocketed to £78 each! This is based on what is known as shrinkage, a figure used to show what should have been earned compared to what was earned, therefore demonstrating the financial loss.

What is even more disturbing is that shoplifting and general theft rates increase dramatically over the Christmas period so businesses need to be even more eagle-eyed than they are over the course of the rest of the year. Shockingly, many of these retail crimes are no longer simply swiping a product and leaving the store. In one year alone, more than 41,000 violent incidents were reported against retail staff, leaving many people too frightened to go to work. With a loss of staff, it doesn’t take us to explain the financial impact that might have on a business!

Types Of Theft At Christmas

When you think of theft in a retail situation, it is easy to assume that there is only one type when in reality, there are several ways that criminals are exploiting businesses over the festive period. As a business owner, it is vital that you are aware of how your company might be affected. Without this knowledge, it would be impossible to even begin to attempt finding a solution.

Retail Theft

Clothing and accessories are a common target among shoplifters

Retail theft is the act of stealing goods and/or stock from a retailer and is commonly referred to as shoplifting.

Unfortunately, there are now many organised groups that will travel the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, targeting different shopping centres and stores. The sad truth is that, if they are caught on a first offence or if the value of the goods is very low, the outcome may be something as simple as a police caution.

However, the law is on the side of retailers and if anyone is caught stealing goods with a total value of more than £200, there is a significant chance that they will be issued with a custodial sentence of up to seven years. Anything with a value of less than £200 could still see the criminal serving up to six months in prison.

Sadly, this doesn’t always deter thieves who believe that they are smart enough to outdo even the most advanced security systems so this is something to remain aware of.

Employee Theft

You take on employees as a way of helping you run your business in the day-to-day. Whether that is by serving customers, putting out stock, cleaning or any other task. We are sure that you fully vet your employees and obtain references but this doesn’t always mean that they are trustworthy.

Of course, most employees are honest and hard-working so it is important not to view everyone as a suspect. This will vastly affect staff morale and your relationship with them. However, it pays to be mindful that employees who find themselves struggling, especially around Christmas, may steal from their employer to get by.

This is often done out of desperation and will usually be an opportunistic crime. A single parent struggling to provide that sought after Christmas gift for their children may see the toy in the storeroom and pop it into their bag when no-one is looking. An employee with financial difficulties may take some money from the till when they think that nobody is around. The list goes on.

While it can be difficult to put an exact figure on the impact of employee theft each year, it is estimated that it may be responsible for up to 22.1% of all shrinkage.


It isn’t only your business that is at risk of becoming a victim of theft, your customers may also be on the receiving end of this type of crime. In the main, this happens through pickpocketing which is when a criminal directly takes an item off a person either from their pocket, a bag or even from a pushchair or wheelchair.

Annually, there are thought to be as many as 600,000 incidents of pickpocketing in the UK alone. While you may think that this won’t have a direct impact on your business, think again! If customers do not feel safe in your retail premises, they are far less likely to return which will have an impact on your future sales.

Types Of Items Typically Stolen Around Christmas

Opportunistic thieves will usually take whatever they can get their hands on, so it can be difficult to say what kinds of things will be taken. However, when people go out with the intent of stealing from a retailer, there are certain goods that are typically targeted.


Shoplifters often target alcohol

It’s no secret that, at Christmas, we tend to drink a lot more. Not only has it been proven that theft levels increase after alcohol consumption, but the drinks themselves are one of the most highly sought after products for shoplifters.

Bottles of wine and spirits are relatively easy to put into a bag and often go unnoticed. People are keen to get their hands on these products to give away as gifts or to sell on, as well as for personal use.

Electronic Goods

There is a natural rise in the demand for various electrical goods at Christmas as so many people want them as gifts. However, as many as 14.5 million UK residents are living on a low income, it can be very difficult to meet the demands of their children and loved ones at Christmas time. Unfortunately, this means that a rise in the theft of electronic goods naturally rises with this demand.

Moreover, these products can be resold for a very healthy sum of money and so thieves, especially career criminals, will take this opportunity to make additional cash. Unfortunately, retailers then lose a substantial profit because of the cost of these stolen goods to their business.


Similar to electrical goods, toys are in high demand at Christmas time. Whether offenders are trying to cut the cost of their own Christmas shopping by stealing or attempting to sell on toys to make an illegal income, the truth is that these are some of the most frequently stolen goods at this time of year.


According to research, clothing is among the most stolen items in the UK and this takes a dramatic increase at Christmas. Again, the likelihood is that these goods will be used as gifts or sold on to make a profit.

Some of the most commonly stolen clothing items include baby clothes but also things like handbags, shoes, gloves and other small accessories. These are often easier to conceal than larger items and yet can still be sold on for a handsome sum of money.

Selling Items On

Many shoplifters will use their stolen items to give away as Christmas presents, but this does carry a higher risk. So, to avoid having to hold onto the stolen goods, criminals will usually sell them on so they must choose items that are in high demand.

This is where things like toys and electrical goods become like goldust for a thief. They are highly sought after around Christmas and thieves will often offer them at a reduced cost, making them even more appealing to the buyer. Even if a thief sells an item at half its retail value, they will still have made a profit.

The easier an item is to sell on, the less time the criminal will need to be in possession of it and therefore the less likelihood of being caught red-handed.

Methods Of Reducing Theft At Christmas

It is an unfortunate thing for business owners that theft increases at Christmas and that we have to be more vigilant. But no matter how we may feel about it, it remains a fact so it is essential that you are prepared for every situation and have the right protection for your retailer business. Let’s take a look at some of the methods you might use to offer that protection.

The Benefits Of CCTV

Closed Circuit Television is a simple yet effective way of deterring thieves at the risk of being caught. These systems have been modernised and are now much more clear and easy to use than they may have been in years gone by. Their mere presence will show potential shoplifters that they won’t go unnoticed.

However, even if your CCTV cameras go unnoticed by a thief, all is not lost as you will have concrete video evidence that the crime happened. While this may not make it easy to locate and prosecute a random shoplifter after the event, it will prove very useful for internal theft such as that committed by employees.

Another amazing benefit of having a CCTV system in place is that your insurance company will favour this and likely lower the cost of your cover. Any kind of preventative system means that your business will be less of a risk to the insurer and you will be rewarded for this.

In some cases, you may be able to catch crimes as they happen. Your CCTV will give you coverage of all of your premises, allowing you to monitor what is happening at all times. Should you notice anything suspicious, you will be able to act quickly.

Reducing Blind Spots

Despite having CCTV in place, there is a chance that not all areas of your business will be monitored. These areas are known as blind spots. But they aren’t limited to what can be seen on camera. Some retailers have nooks and corners that cannot easily be viewed from the main part of the shop; avoiding having these areas can go towards reducing the likelihood of crime as thieves won’t have anywhere to hide.

In terms of your CCTV system, there are several things you can do to avoid having as many blind spots. Spend some time positioning your cameras. It can be helpful to stand in the area that you wish to monitor and take photos. This will allow you to determine how far in or out you need to zoom as well as whether the angle of the camera needs adjusting.

When purchasing cameras, you should keep in mind that they come in various resolutions. Some have very low quality but may be enough if they only need to sense movement in order to trigger an alarm system. On the other hand, there are some incredible HD cameras that pick up facial details and are ideal for retail environments.

If the inside of your business is quite dark then you should also consider installing LED lights to reduce the number of blind spots caused by insufficient lighting.

Working With A Professional Security Company

Running a retail business can be pressing at the best of times. Throw in the heightened demand of the Christmas period and you’ve got a lot of work on your plate. Having to monitor, deter and deal with the effects of theft is just another thing on the to-do list that you could do without.

However, there are many security companies, like BAC, that offer a complete service to take this worry off your hands. Whether you are running a small independent boutique or a large retail chain, a security company will take a huge burden off your shoulders, tackling every aspect of security.

The company will be able to provide an assessment of your premises, identifying potential risks and providing you with viable solutions to these problems. Once you’re happy with what you are being offered, the security company will then be able to install and maintain equipment that is designed specifically for your needs.

But what’s even better is that, once the equipment is installed, you won’t need to worry about monitoring it, as your security company can also do this for you. BAC provides a comprehensive monitoring service so that you can get on with the other important aspects of running your business. Your security system will deter thieves and catch those that want to try their luck.

Benefits Of Employing BAC To Protect Your Assets At Christmas Time

BAC is a local company to the Bristol and Bath area that prides itself on bringing clients a unique and personalised experience. There are many benefits to working with us, especially at a time of year when your business is at increased risk. If you’ve been sitting on the fence and are unable to decide whether BAC is right for you, let us tell you why we are!

Fully Accredited And Qualified

You don’t want just anyone coming in and installing a security system, you need to know that the person is qualified and capable of completing the work. BAC is proud of its huge number of accreditations, which are displayed on our website and include SSAIB accreditations as well health and safety and environmental accreditations.

What’s more, our team is fully qualified and each member undergoes intense training to obtain the most up to date and relevant qualifications.

Vast Experience In The Field

Being a local company, we have close ties with the Bristol and Bath area and we believe that this puts us heads and shoulders above the rest as we know this community and care about the businesses and people here.

But our experience stretches far beyond being affiliated with the local community. We are experts in the security field and have a combined experience of more than 30 years. This family run business means that knowledge and expertise has been passed down between generations and is further complemented by additional training.

Safe And Trustworthy

BAC Fire & Security – A company you can trust

We know that putting the safety of your business into someone else’s hands requires an enormous amount of trust. That is why, here at BAC, we are proud of our honest and trustworthy reputation. But this isn’t something that we simply claim; all of our contractors and staff have to undergo full CRB/DBS checks.

These police checks demonstrate that all of our employees are free from criminal prosecutions and are reliable and trustworthy. There is no current law that requires businesses like BAC to have their staff checked but we know that being able to prove our commitment to you is of the utmost importance. Your business is safe with us.

What’s more, we have received several excellent testimonials from previous clients detailing our professional and reliable approach.

Full Service Including 24/7 Response

Running your business at Christmas takes up a lot of time so you aren’t going to want to throw in the added hassle of installing or monitoring a security system. But BAC has got you covered right from the initial assessment all the way through the installation process and beyond.

Our team of experts will determine your unique security needs and come up with a bespoke system to suit them. We will fully install everything and perform relevant checks to ensure your system is up and running and ready for use before we leave.

We offer a monitoring service that allows you to get on with running your business while we take care of everything security related. We also have a detailed maintenance service that provides you with everything from annual checks to 24/7 call-outs to fix problems so that your business isn’t at risk.

Did We Mention We Do Fire Alarms Too?

BAC is an expert in the security field but we are just as adept when it comes to protecting your business against fire and intruders. If you’re keen to get full protection for your retail premises then you might also consider our extensive and detailed fire alarm and monitoring systems.


It is a very sad truth that retail businesses come under great threat around the festive period due to a significant increase in theft. This happens in many ways and while a lot of this crime occurs on the shop floor through shoplifting, businesses may also suffer losses at the hands of their staff.

In order to protect your business from these crimes, it is vital that you have a good security system in place. But managing this as well as your business can be incredibly tiring so BAC Fire and Security is on hand to take care of everything for you. We are a trusted, reliable, professional company with vast experience and an impressive array of accreditation. You can trust us to keep your business protected this Christmas and beyond.