Retail theft is a growing concern—but so is consumer backlash

Major retailers are getting increasingly creative at combatting theft, but balancing security with customer service is a delicate act. Retail Council of Canada CEO Diane Brisebois told CBC News that organized retail crime is a growing problem. “We’re talking here about gangs that are in the business of stealing, and retail is the new frontier.”

That concern has some retailers turning to such measures as wheel locks on shopping carts, random receipt checks, and metal or plexiglass barriers. But some analysts warn those are blunt instruments unless retailers can distinguish between suspicious activity and innocent customers.

“There’s a feeling that you’re a thief in the making until you prove otherwise,” Vancouver retail consultant David Ian Gray told the CBC. “The current status quo is just bad for shopper experience, and that’s not what you want when you’re in retail.”