It’s December—meaning the 2017 holiday shopping season is upon us, and after analyzing the calendar, it will likely prove to be a lengthy season for retailers. The predicted top ten busiest shopping days fall between Black Friday (November 24) and Saturday, December 30 and are positioned to account for 40-50 percent of the 2017 holiday season’s total in-store shopping visits. The full list of predicted busiest shopping days is as follows:
1. Friday, Nov. 24
2. Saturday, Dec. 23
3. Saturday, Dec. 16
4. Tuesday, Dec. 26
5. Saturday, Nov. 25
6. Friday, Dec. 22
7. Saturday, Dec. 9
8. Saturday, Dec. 2
9. Saturday, Dec. 30
10. Thursday, Dec. 21
It’s important to note that for the first time since 2012, there are four Saturdays in December before Christmas Day with each expected to see some of the highest foot traffic. This includes Super Saturday (December 23), which is predicted to be the runner-up to Black Friday for the busiest traffic days this year.
While the calendar shift presents more selling opportunities for retailers, it also extends the risk of shrink, putting more pressure on loss prevention professionals. To help reduce shrink during the holiday season, retailers must factor in loss prevention when prepping across business functions like marketing, merchandising and logistics, among others. Setting expectations and preparing across functions in advance will save time and help minimize stress as the season gets underway. The ultimate goal of laying the groundwork for the holiday season before the busiest shopping days is to take a streamlined approach to increase profit potential.
For loss prevention professionals, understanding projected footfall traffic patterns and shifts in the calendar will help them better prepare in-store staff for the increased volume of shoppers. By getting involved in broader staffing conversations early, loss prevention professionals can help make sure staffing plans take into account not only the increase in customer requests, but also the increase for potential shrink and shoplifting during the busiest shopping days.
This is a good time to re-emphasize store cleanliness with staff, as maintaining a tidy and organized store can help determine if any losses have occurred. It also means taking into consideration potential employee-theft given the influx of temporary holiday workers, who may be doing more backroom, restocking activities, where items can be easily concealed.
Additionally, loss prevention professionals should make sure that all staff are properly trained on how to identify and respond to a possible theft situation. When it comes to protecting the store, good customer service is the best deterrence to shoplifting, as theft is less likely to occur if there are sales associates helping shoppers and scouting the sales floor.
Every retailer’s company guidelines for handling theft situations will be different, so it’s important that directions are clearly explained during training. With more customer traffic in stores, it is everyone’s job, not just loss prevention professionals, to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Point-of-sale transactions and the importance of getting transactions done right should also be described during training to help reduce losses due to fees.
Alongside staffing and training, leveraging an integrated solution that can combine retail technologies around the store can help combat shrink and provide additional business insights during busy holiday traffic days. Today’s advanced solutions can combine technologies such as acousto-magnetic (AM) for asset protection, radio frequency identification (RFID) for real-time inventory and shrink visibility, infrared sensors for counting shopper traffic and IP/video for visual verification of EAS and RFID alarm event activity to enhance loss prevention and optimize store performance.
An integrated technology solution can deliver new levels of actionable intelligence, empowering store associates to make better informed decisions to improve store operations and performance. The data collected through a combination of technologies can not only provide valuable insights into shrink, but can also help enable better inventory accuracy, ultimately enhancing the customer experience and increasing profitability. Loss prevention solutions are wider reaching than just preventing shrink. They affect overall store performance, a key focus especially around the holidays, when every sale counts.
No matter what solution they are leveraging, loss prevention professionals should make sure that any previously installed technology is working properly ahead of the busy traffic days. Testing solutions beforehand can help store associates focus on serving customers rather than checking devices and policing stores.
Physical security devices to check include alarm systems, anti-shoplifting devices and safes, among others. Furthermore, loss prevention professionals should confirm that all keys, including spares, are accounted for and that emergency contact information is updated for all store locations. Enabling streamlined store operations allows retailers to better compete with other stores that may not be prepared or equipped with advanced loss prevention technology prior to the busiest shopping days.
This year’s calendar is a testament that it is never too early to prepare for the holiday season, especially on the loss prevention front. With nearly half of the holiday opportunity on the table during the top ten busiest shopping days, retailers can’t afford to have an increase in shrink. Implementing a year-long security plan that includes making educated staffing decisions, proper staff training and advanced loss prevention technology can help retailers improve upon previous loss prevention strategies and help exceed their bottom line during the peak holiday season.