As someone starting your own business, you have a lot on your mind. From registering your trade name to getting permits, an operational tactic like how you’ll handle shoplifting seems like something you’ll just deal with later on down the road. Besides, it’s annoying, but in the end, someone sneaking out with a bar of candy every now and then really doesn’t cause that much harm, right?

Wrong.

Here’s why shoplifting needs to be taken seriously and resources like the “Shoplifting Prevention Guide” are essential to your business’s success.

Loss of company profits

Shoplifting isn’t just a nuisance – it’s a serious threat to your business’s profits. In 2013, it was estimated that more than $13 billion worth of retail goods are stolen by shoplifters annually. That’s more than $35 million each day.

But it’s not just a loss of profits – you also lose inventory that legitimate consumers could have purchased. This means, you have to raise the prices of your items to compensate for what has been stolen, essentially punishing your honest customers for a crime they did not commit. According to experts, the average family will spend three hundred dollars every year to subsidize the cost of what shoplifters steal.

Raising your prices to offset the profits stolen by shoplifters could discourage customers from frequenting your store. They may instead turn to larger, more established businesses with more buying power, which will decrease your earnings even further.

Negative impact on the community

In addition to a loss of profits, shoplifting has a negative impact on the community as a whole, and as a startup business owner, you want to be sure you maintain a positive relationship with the community you’re a part of. When shoplifting is not prevented properly, the perpetrators can overburden police officers and clog court procedures. Additionally, the community loses money because shoplifters don’t pay sales tax on the items they steal.

But, those aren’t the only reasons failing to prevent shoplifting is bad for the community. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), people can become addicted to shoplifting, similar to an addiction to drugs. By failing to do your part to prevent shoplifting, you are enabling unhealthy behavior to continue in the community.

No one is immune to it

No matter your location or your goods, your business is susceptible to shoplifting. The NASP found that there are approximately 27 million shoplifters in America – that’s 1 in 11 people. The chances of an individual prone to shoplifting wandering into your store are very high.

And there is no singular demographic for a shoplifter to belong to. The perpetrators vary in gender, age, race, and income range. Very few people shoplift out of need. In fact, people with an income of $70,000 or more are 30 percent more likely to shoplift than those earning less.

These statistics may seem daunting, especially to startup business owners. But don’t worry – taking action to prepare your store for deterring shoplifters will create a shopping environment that will help make you and your customers feel safe. Just be sure to take those measures now before it is too late.

By Charlotte Higgins

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