News & Events

Black Friday meets Brexit: brace yourself for a weekend of bargain hunters

November 24, 2016

As Christmas shopping season looms, retailers across the UK are bracing themselves for Black Friday weekend and the resulting increase in footfall, online queues, frantic bargain hunters and subsequent spates of theft.

While some retailers are refraining from participating in this year’s marathon day (or days) of deals, several industry experts are predicting this year’s Black Friday will be the biggest yet. Shoppers are expected to snap up large items such as fridges before Brexit-induced price rises take effect in January. Black Friday sales alone are expected to exceed £1.27bn for the UK retail industry, while online sales will generate over £6.6bn over the festive period, an increase of 16 percent on last year[1].


Preparing for a bumper Black Friday

With Black Friday cracking the £1bn sales mark for the first time ever in 2015 and total sales over the shopping weekend reaching more than £3bn, it’s clear this is a great opportunity to get more shoppers through the door. However, with higher quantities of merchandise put out on the shop floor, additional door displays, temporary staff and more footfall, increased opportunities for shoplifters are inevitable.

Earlier this month Ernie Deyle, a retail loss prevention analyst, carried out international research on the risks retailers face during this upcoming holiday season. Over the next two months alone, dishonest shoppers and employees are set to pinch merchandise equivalent to every person in the UK stealing £15.15 worth of goods over the festive period. This figure is more than double that stolen over the rest of the year.

So, what’s on the shoplifting list?

The grocery retail sector will see leading alcohol brands particularly in vodka and whisky targeted by shoplifters, as well as champagne. Traditional festive foods, like beef, lamb and turkey, are also high on their shoplifting lists, while the wide range of gift sets and chocolate boxes on display presents an appealing opportunity to light-fingered customers.


Of the non-grocery items most wanted this Christmas, leather jackets and designer winter coats rank highly, while make-up and perfumes are easy to conceal and have a high resale value on the black market and online marketplaces. Electrical items are also expected to be in favour during the festive months, with electric toothbrushes, shavers, straighteners and kitchen electricals all popular presents.

Retailers are faced with the difficult task of ensuring they can manage the influx of customers, as well as protecting their merchandise while also making it available for honest shoppers to purchase.

The top four most at-risk items in the UK are:

1)      Alcohol – Champagne & Spirits

2)      Food – Chocolate & luxury meats

3)      Perfume & Make-up (including gift sets)

4)      Electrical Goods


Communication is key when addressing consumer expectations this Black Friday.  Addressing waiting customers before opening the store is key so they know the entry procedure and the store policies they must adhere to, such as, one item per person, not tolerating taking items from other shoppers, safety procedures and attitudes towards staff etc. By setting boundaries early on, you’re ensuring customers know what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. This will not only help to ensure a smoother customer shopper experience, but also by having a greeter by the entry making eye contact and welcoming shoppers, some opportunist thieves will inevitably be put off.

In a 2008 global study conducted by NRMA, it found shoplifters are 68 percent less likely to commit the offence if they are greeted immediately as they walk into the retail store.