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Decking the halls: How to protect your business this holiday season

By David J. Sexton

Holiday sales are critical to the success of a retail jewellery business. Jewellery stores are handling an influx of customers, ready to purchase the perfect gift to put under the tree. With all the excitement of the holidays, plus the increased sales and foot traffic, now is definitely not the time to let your focus on in-store security falter.

Given the recent cycle of crime targeting products like luxury watches, your security should be more 
top-of-mind than ever. Whether you carry luxury merchandise or not, you can improve your store’s security this holiday season by protecting yourself against three common crimes.

Peak shopping season, and a store filled with customers, won’t deter robbers from attacking your showcases with sledgehammers or threatening you with a gun. Criminals have even targeted hightraffic locations like shopping malls during past holiday seasons—there’s no reason to think this year will be any different.

Make sure you and your staff are consistently doing these things to prevent a robbery.

  • Secure your openings and closings. Have at least two people conduct your opening and closing duties together. In the morning, one associate opens the store and conducts a thorough search of the premises to establish and indicate an all-clear to the others—who should remain outside at a safe distance to notify law enforcement if the first associate encounters any issues. At night, the same procedure should be used.
  • Identify casing. Most every crime in the jewellery industry is preceded by some degree of surveillance. Some suspicious behaviours to be aware of include avoiding contact with your sales staff or trying to locate your electronic security features (surveillance and alarm systems). If anything doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts, document the occurrence, then share it with everyone at your business.
  • Establish a code word. Your associates should have a code word or phrase in place that warns of a suspicious situation. Something as simple as, “Mr. Wilson is coming to pick up his order,” should cue one associate to leave the premises, contact police, and wait for them to arrive.
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Distraction theft increases during the holidays because of increased foot traffic, increased inventory, and busy employees.

Distraction theft
With a flood of customers looking for that perfect piece of jewellery, employees are stretched thin. Well-prepared thieves are patient and will wait for an associate’s attention to slip, then strike. Remind your entire staff how important each of the following simple actions are to the security of your valuable merchandise.

  • Greet every customer. Saying hello and making eye contact isn’t good only for spreading holiday cheer, it is also a good way to make criminals feel unwelcome. Even if you’re busy with another guest, you should still offer a quick greeting, just be sure not to turn your back on your current customer
  • Provide a private showing area. When a customer asks to see high-value merchandise, allow the customer to do so with the associate in a private area or office, away from the main showroom. This arrangement provides privacy for your customer, allows your associate to focus on the showing, and discourages a grab-and-run scenario.
  • Lock all showcases, all the time. It’s something you should always do, but it’s especially important during the holidays when you might keep more inventory in your showcases to keep up with customer demand. Remember to remove the keys from the showcase locks when they are unattended, or when you are not actively taking out or returning items. Never leave keys out where they could easily be taken.
  • Interact one-on-one. Keep your focus on one guest at a time. This can be tough during the holidays, but it will make that customer feel important and worthy of your undivided attention and help ensure you don’t lose track of merchandise. To prevent grab-and-runs, you should show only one item at a time.

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