What is retail security?

retail security blog post image

With the retail price index in the UK surging to 8.8 percent and wages stagnant, 2022 is a risky year for retailers. Due to worsening economic conditions, consumers and colleagues may be more likely to shoplift than in the past. 

Fortunately, this post is here to help. Here we explore what retail security is and how to implement it effectively. 

Retail security: A definition

Retail security refers to the actions that retailers take to keep shoppers and colleagues safe and to reduce the risk of theft. Strategies for achieving this include installing CCTV cameras, hiring retail security guards and implementing various merchandising or store layout techniques proven to reduce theft risk. 

The type of security a retailer implement depends on what they sell, their location, and the characteristics of the retail unit. Some premises are at a higher risk of theft than others, particularly those that sell small, high-value items, such as jewellery stores.

Consulting with a security firm is the best way to ensure high-quality protection. Security operations almost always reduce losses and pay for themselves over time.

example of retail business improvement district security officers

How to implement retail security effectively

Securing retail premises requires first securing your perimeter and then adding systems that make it progressively harder for any sort of harm or theft to occur. 

Rotate your locks and prioritise security on all exterior doors

Perhaps the most cost-effective way to protect retail premises is to secure your perimeter. 

Start by chronicling all exterior doors (including those you share with other retail units). Check that these have proper security protocols in place. Most criminals prefer to enter via a backdoor than the main entrance, so make sure that your security is good here, too.

If doors are unguarded, make sure that you have extra security devices in place to prevent entry. Remember, garage doors are often weak and easy to breach. 

Also, regularly re-key your locks, particularly if you have a high rate of staff turnover. Managers and former employees with key access can get new keys cut during their employment with you and then return to the premises months later to steal. 

Get a safe

While thieves can often break into stores, it is much more challenging for them to bust open a high-security safe. These come with anti-tamper devices and tracking equipment so even if they rip it out of the wall (which is hard to do), you can track it. 

Safes increase the difficulty of theft. If you keep all your cash and valuables in one, then opportunistic “grab and run” crime becomes more difficult. 

Don’t buy a combination safe. They’re not as secure as modern electronic or cash drop safes. 

Install a security system

Retail security systems are becoming more popular. As the name suggests, these are integrated systems that make theft considerably more challenging.

Quality systems adopt a range of measures to protect businesses while keeping costs low. These include: 

  • Installing anti-tampering devices on exterior windows and doors that can send alerts to guards at a central location
  • Remote CCTV monitoring, both manned and machine learning-based
  • Supply chain protection that covers items from distribution centres to the final retail destination 
  • Motion detectors, particularly in quiet outdoor areas, such as backyards

Systems vary considerably from each other. Ideally, any solution you implement should route all data to a central security hub where guards can monitor twenty-four-seven. Integration should enable guards to apprehend suspects and detain them until law enforcement arrives. 

Invest In Retail Security Guarding

Retail security guards play an important role for several reasons. Unlike in the past, their job goes beyond simply keeping offenders out or protecting stock. Instead, they are also using their service skills to protect employees and provide customers with a better experience. 

Studies show that consumers feel safer entering a store that has a security guard. In these situations, they know that they are at a lower risk of being harassed or intimidated by other shoppers. Colleagues feel better, too. They have the support they need if a customer becomes violent or abusive. Security guards have the skills to defuse confrontations or, if the worst comes to the worst, prevent injury. 

Finally in this section, some retail stores face threats from organised gangs. For these, hiring retail store detectives might be the best strategy. These professionals are selected and trained officers who have years of experience in law enforcement. They know how to blend in with ordinary shoppers and can quickly identify organised gangs operating on the ground. What’s more, unlike regular security guards, they are better able to weigh the risk of detention against reward. This reduces the danger for staff and customers while giving your store the upper hand. 

Integrate Access Control

Most doors are non-integrated meaning that when a person enters your premises through them, there is no central record of the event. With basic security measures, such as keys, this is guaranteed. 

With integrated access control, though, the situation is different. Here, each member of staff gets a unique key code. Access units then collect data and report it to a central computer. Security managers can then review it whenever there is shrinkage or a valuable item goes missing. 

Add electronic tags to valuable merchandise

Lastly, electronic article surveillance (EAS) is a powerful way to protect your merchandise from shoplifters. These set off an alarm if they cross a particular store threshold before being sold. Door security can then stop and identify customers. 

Effective EAS implementation requires checkout assistants to always remove tags. Failing to do so could result in a large number of false positives, where security guards detain paying customers and check their receipts. 


As we have seen, retail security is a collection of strategies and technologies that make retail stores more secure. Effective implementation is possible, but it requires the help of seasoned security experts

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