UK retailer Co-op is extending its trial project to use empty 'dummy display packaging' for certain products to curb incidents of shoplifting.
The empty packaging will be used across higher value products, such as coffee, higher-value chocolates, washing powder and laundry gels, which are frequently targeted by criminals for re-sale.
Shoppers will take the dummy display case to the till, where it will be exchanged for the product, the company noted.
Co-op said it had previously used the anti-theft packaging in a limited number of stores, and expects it to 'continue to become a more familiar feature in retailing'.
'An Ongoing Challenge For Retailers'
Kate Graham, director of operations at Co-op, said, "It is an ongoing challenge for all retailers, and often a flashpoint for attacks and abuse towards our colleagues.
"Co-op continues to invest significantly in keeping colleagues and stores safe. This includes extending our use of dummy display cases to deter the incidents of ‘bulk-shoplifting’ or, ‘looting’, as it has been described, where criminals sweep products off shelves for re-sale."
Almost two-thirds (63%) of crime is driven by repeat and prolific offenders, with drug or alcohol addictions and, local organised criminal gangs, according to the Crime Report 2023 by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).
Co-op revealed that it witnessed a 35% year-on-year increase in crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour with almost 1,000 incidents each day in the six months to June (2023).
The convenience retailer also warned that this level of out-of-control, 'consequence-less' crime is unsustainable and could even see some communities become a no-go area for local stores, with many police forces not prioritising retail crime.
Graham added, "While we are doing all we can, we also need the police to play their part as too often, Forces fail to respond to desperate calls by our store teams and criminals operate in communities without any fear of consequences.”
The UK retailer has invested more than £200 million (€233.3 million) in recent years to counter criminal behaviour to ensure the safety of its employees and the community.
Per store, this amount equates to four times the average expenditure incurred by the convenience sector on security and safety measures.
Some of the safety measures implemented by the retailer include, among others, interactive and remote monitored CCTV, body-worn cameras, communication headsets for frontline colleagues, and covert and non-covert guarding.