In this article, we cover the security threats shops and retail outlets face. As retail security experts, we understand the importance of ensuring that shops and retail outlets have a robust security system in place. 

Unfortunately, these businesses are vulnerable to various security threats that can lead to financial losses, damage to reputation, and a risk to the safety of customers and employees. 

In this article, we will discuss the most common security threats that shops face and how they can be addressed.

Related reading: A guide to CCTV in shops & retail security cameras


Shoplifting is a significant problem for retailers.

The effect of shoplifting impacts shops and store owners financially and can deter customers from visiting a store. Thieves loitering outside a shop can also deter people from wanting to shop in that shop or outlet. 

According to research by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), stores in the UK spent, on average, £5,000 on crime and shoplifting prevention measures in 2022. Furthermore, there were also 950,000 reported incidents of theft.

How to prevent and reduce shoplifting

There are a number of security measures stores and owners of retail outlets can take to detect, deter and prevent shoplifting.

These include:

  • Installing high-performing surveillance cameras
  • Advanced facial recognition cameras
  • Well-trained security personnel

Looking to deter shoplifters? Find out more about our retail and shop CCTV camera systems.

In the next section of this guide to the security threats shops face, we focus on employee theft.

Employee theft

Employee theft can be a significant security threat to shops, stores, and retail outlets. Despite the best efforts to employ good staff, it’s an unfortunate fact that employee theft is a significant issue for shop owners and retailers.

Employees can steal various items, such as:

  • Food
  • Electronic devices
  • Cash
  • Clothes
  • Vouchers

Interestingly, according to the research conducted by Statista, there were over 6,000 incidents of employee theft in 2022 – up 20% from 2021. The good news for the retail industry is that the volume of recorded incidents of employee theft has been reducing steadily over the last 20 years. 

How to detect & deter employee theft

There are a number of retail security measures stores and shop owners can take to detect and deter employee theft.

These include:

  • The use of internal CCTV surveillance cameras
  • Covert CCTV and spy camera systems
  • Robust recruitment and  vetting processes for new staff members

If you are considering your security options to tackle this threat, head over to our dedicated page for commercial security camera systems.

If you are keen to add an element of stealth to your security operations, visit our guide to covert CCTV cameras.

Anti-social behavior

Anti-social behavior can lead to aggressive customers and inappropriate behavior towards staff and other customers. This type of behavior can also lead to a decrease in customer loyalty, as a bad experience will stop shoppers from coming back to your store. 

According to research in 2022 by the British Retail Consortium, 90% of shop workers have been harassed or abused whilst at work.

What are the solutions to deal with anti-social behaviour?

There is a range of retail & shop security measures outlets can take to detect and deter anti-social behaviour such as harassment and abuse.

These include:

  • The use of internal security cameras as a visual deterrent 
  • CCTV cameras coupled with audio intervention – to warn the perpetrator they are being watched)
  • CCTV systems coupled with audio recording – to collect and collate evidence of a customer abusing store workers 

If you are reviewing your shop security options, head over to the section of our website dedicated to commercial CCTV cameras.

Accidents, trips, and falls

Accidents, trips, and falls can easily occur in shops and retail outlets. As a result, they can damage a store’s reputation and result in insurance claims. It’s important to have proper health and safety protocols in place to prevent such incidents from happening. 

Spillages, loose items on the shop floor and other hazards, when left unattended to. Can present a real danger to shoppers of all ages. However, in-store accidents can impact employees too.

This case study by the Health & Safety Executive highlights how a store worker was awarded £25.000 after slipping on hot oil

Additionally, ambulance-chasing lawyers carve out a living from their no-win, no-fee approach to helping individuals claim for damages against shops and stores when accidents occur

What are the solutions?

There are a range of retail security options outlets can take to detect and deal with accidents and falls.

These include:

  • CCTV cameras can be used to detect potential hazards and ensure that the store is safe for customers and employees
  • Crystal clear CCTV footage can also determine if a claim against a shop is justified or spurious
  • Using ‘wet-floor safety signs’ to reduce the risk of injury and claims against the business
  • Having properly executed health and safety policies and procedures in place 

The above store security solutions provide shop and retail outlet owners with peace of mind, knowing they are well covered against slips, accidents, and falls.

Related reading

How many CCTV cameras do I need?

The different types of commercial CCTV cameras

Damage to property and vandalism

It’s a sad truth  – vandalism and damage to property are significant security threats that shops and retail outlets face. Graffiti and smashed windows impact high street, and local convenience stores across the UK.

When dealing with graffiti, store owners will have to bear the costs associated with removing it from their shop windows and doors. Smashed windows impact the aesthetic appeal of a shop and incur significant costs.

This includes:

  • The cost of repairs
  • Loss of revenue if the shop has to close temporarily 
  • Rising insurance premiums
  • Time lost dealing with this issue

Example of vandalism impacting retail stores:

Let’s look at some of the available security solutions on offer.

Ideas to detect and deter vandalism

There is a broad range of retail security options shop owners can take to deter and deal with vandalism and graffiti. 

These include:

  • External turret CCTV cameras
  • Highly visible CCTV signage
  • Audio challenge for larger chains of stores using CCTV remote monitoring systems
  • Commercial security alarms integrated with glass break detectors 

Related reading

You can find out a bit more about some of the solutions mentioned above by reading the following articles:

Theft of cash from 3rd party ATMs

Thieves often target ATMs located in shops and retail outlets during the night to steal cash. This can result in significant financial losses for both the shop owner and the third-party ATM provider. 

These crimes often require planning and are therefore usually carried out by organised criminals. However, petty criminals and thieves may well try and take a smash-and-grab approach to stealing cash from ATMs.

Examples of ATM theft from two Co-Ops in Hampshire:

Solutions to prevent theft from ATMs

There are a few options available to help you detect and deter theft from ATMs. These include:

  • Visible deterrents such as CCTV cameras and signage
  • Fast response keyholder services and CCTV remote monitoring

Deploying surveillance cameras pointing at the ATM can help deter thieves from carrying out their criminal acts. Furthermore, the footage from the CCTV cameras can be used as evidence if the perpetrators are caught, leading to prosecution.

General break-ins

Break-ins and burglaries are other significant security threats that shops and retail outlets face. 

Petty thieves and organised criminals often break into a store to steal cash and other items easily sold on the black market. For businesses operating in the retail sector, this can cause significant financial losses for the store owner or operator.

That’s not even mentioning the stress, worry, and emotional impact crime causes, too. 

The impact of break-ins can also lead to the closure of the store, damaging the reputation and customer loyalty. 

Examples of store break ins

Store break-ins happen all too often. In the following example, Argos in Reading was targeted by criminals who stole electronic goods.

Additionally, a One Stop in Hampshire was burgled by thieves looking for cash.

Preventing and detecting shop break-ins

There are a variety of options available for owners and operators of retail stores looking to detect and deter theft. These include: 

  • Security alarms and CCTV cameras 
  • Remote alarm monitoring with fast keyholder / Police response

Crystal clear CCTV footage can provide evidence in identifying the culprits, leading to prosecution. Furthermore, remote alarm monitoring can be deployed to catch and apprehend criminals.

Summary: What are the security threats shops and retail outlets face?

In conclusion, shops and retail outlets are vulnerable to various security threats that can have serious consequences.

Retailers must take steps to mitigate these threats by implementing a robust security system that includes the use of surveillance cameras, facial recognition technology, alarms and remote CCTV monitoring. 

Employee vetting, health and safety protocols, and proper training for staff are also crucial. 

By taking these measures, shops and retail outlets can ensure the safety of their customers and employees, protect their reputations, and avoid financial losses.

Looking for a security solution for your shop or retail outlet?

If you are looking at ways to protect your stores and detect and deter crime, call us today on 0800 689 1835.