The COVID-19 pandemic saw all areas of the UK impacted by restrictions and subsequent lockdowns. In just over a year, we’ve seen small and large retailers close their doors for good or operate at limited capacity (such as those selling takeaway meals and coffee). It’s been a tough period, but we now head deeper toward summer and we’re just weeks away from “Freedom Day”.
At the time of writing this article, the final lifting of England’s COVID lockdown is set to take place on 21st June; however, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, has said he is “absolutely open” to delaying the lockdown if necessary. Whilst we’re still uncertain whether England and its UK neighbours will see all legal limits with contact removed on 21st June with the final sectors of the economy reopened (such as nightlife and weddings), non-essential retail sales are beginning to pick up, with plenty of stores reopening back on 12th April 2021. If you’re getting ready to reopen your store or want to ensure you have taken the proper measures before we return to ‘normality’, we’ve added some of our top tips below:
Conduct a safety audit
If your stores have been left unattended for quite some time and you’ve not been able to arrange regular patrols to check for signs of damage or hazards, then now is the time to do a full safety audit. It’s essential to look out for signs of damage to the exterior and interior, and whilst there may be specific fixes you need to make as soon as possible, it’s crucial to think about the long-term too. Are there any significant improvements you can make to the look and feel of your building? Having had some time away, you may spot areas that could do with modernisation or updating before your store returns to full capacity, brimming with customers.
Consider bolstering protection with security guards
With more footfall on the horizon, it’s even more important to adapt to demand and ensure your customers enjoy a smoother shopping experience, especially during those hectic periods. Unfortunately, with any increase in footfall, criminal activity increases too, such as theft, vandalism, and fraud. Of course, adding CCTV and signage and security scanner gates can help deter certain criminals; there are many organised thieves planning crimes very carefully, and guards provide the most effective solution.
Retail security guards will monitor your building’s entrances and exits. They will also be able to identify potential shoplifters or other criminals before they cause any harm. This means that retailers can increase profits whilst providing a safer environment for shoppers and their families. In addition, retailers who employ security guards often see increased customer satisfaction because of their heightened sense of safety, leading them back into the store more often.
Access control is still essential
With COVID variants making the headlines in recent weeks and a stark gap between vaccination programs in different countries, there are no signs to say the end is near. Even if restrictions are wholly eased, many companies will be looking to utilise automated queue control systems for maintaining a safe number of customers in their store at one time. There is no “off and on” switch for how safe people feel, so again, part of creating a fantastic shopping experience where people can feel safe may be limiting numbers as many people will still want to avoid crowded shops.
With automated queue control, you’re able to manage footfall effectively, helping to ensure excellent customer flow and a successful store layout that maximises sales. If there are any issues in this area, security guards can step in to assist, so it’s always best to have the best of both worlds. Guards can also ensure people follow any rules carefully and take the correct routes (if required).
Think about your customers
As with every retailer right now, you will likely have customers who are excited to return to your store and make the most of the experience after such a long time away; however, others will not feel comfortable venturing out to the shops, so it’s essential to try your best to bridge the gap, instil confidence in the shopping experience by creating a safe environment.
Is the role of the retail security guard changing?
In many ways, yes. Retail stores have always been crowded spaces, but occupancy monitoring and social distancing measures have added more weight to the role of a retail security guard. In many cases, retail security guards have had to carry out more responsibilities throughout the pandemic, ensuring customers maintained good hygiene standards as they entered the premises and conducted their shopping. Innovative security features have indeed come a relatively long way in a short space of time; however, communication is key to maintaining a safe and secure shop, and retail guards undoubtedly perform a more critical role today. Guards are there to keep your customers at ease and help make a positive first impression on visitors and improve the overall shopping experience.
At Intraguard, we ensure supermarkets, shopping centres, and retail outlets of all sizes minimise shrinkage and increase profits with a dependable team of SIA guards. Our officers are experienced in the retail sector, with experience
- Recognise theft threats
- Ensure customers and staff feel safe
- Provide ongoing surveillance of all areas
- Deter vandalism, fraud and internal theft
- Issue a civil recovery service to begin the process of reclaiming losses and costs directly from offenders
If you’d like to learn more about our experience in the retail sector or wish to speak to us about your needs, please call us on 0207 183 5016 or send us a message today.