supermarket shelves

Retail Crime in the UK – and How To Address It

01 February, 2024

Shop theft has reached record highs in the retail sector, with nearly half of retailers claiming that theft has increased dramatically in the past year. According to reports, organised crime syndicates target retailers, shoplifting or stealing high-value goods to resell elsewhere. This harrowing trend puts staff and customers at risk. 

In 2023, Tesco announced that they would roll out hundreds of safety screens in Express stores and petrol station kiosks across the UK as a response to increasing incidents of crime against retailers, particularly a concerning increase in assaults against staff. These screens enclose the side of the till where staff are most vulnerable and stand above head height, protecting staff against assault. Designed to prevent the theft of high-value items, such as alcohol, beauty products, cigarettes, and other items often kept behind counters, it’s become a valuable deterrent against crime.

The Impact of Retail Crime

According to the Home Office Report, retail stores have been impacted in several ways, including:  

  • Direct Financial Losses: The most immediate impact of crime on businesses is the direct financial losses incurred. Theft, vandalism, or other criminal activities can result in the loss of merchandise, equipment, or cash. Businesses may also face expenses related to repairing damages, upgrading security measures, or hiring additional staff to address the aftermath of the crime.
  • Impact on Stock: Theft or damage to stock directly affects a business’s inventory. Stolen goods represent a loss of potential revenue, and businesses may need to replenish their stock, incurring additional costs. If certain items are targeted consistently, it can lead to stock shortages, affecting the business’s ability to meet customer demand and potentially damaging its reputation.
  • Operational Disruption: Criminal incidents can disrupt normal business operations. For instance, a break-in or theft may lead to the closure of the store for a period of police investigations or repairs. This disruption can result in a temporary loss of revenue and increased expenses, particularly if the business needs to pay overtime to staff or hire additional personnel to deal with the damage. 
  • Insurance Costs: Businesses often invest in insurance to mitigate the financial impact of criminal activities. However, filing insurance claims and receiving compensation can involve a time-consuming process. Repeated claims may lead to increased insurance premiums, adding to the financial burden for the business.
  • Impact on Staff Morale and Productivity: The staff of a business can be significantly affected by criminal incidents. The stress and anxiety caused by theft or vandalism can lower staff morale. If the business has to hire extra staff or require existing staff to work additional hours to deal with the aftermath, it can lead to fatigue, reduced productivity, and potential burnout. 18% of shopkeepers have considered leaving the industry due to crime.

Why Screens? 

Security screens, like the ones installed by Tesco, enhance the security of retail and other commercial environments. Screens are installed as barriers to protect staff and counter areas from physical attacks, robberies, and other security threats without impacting operations. 

Cost-effective solutions like Safetell’s SafeShield UL Security Glazing safeguard staff and counter areas against physical attacks and attempts to vault over the counterwork to snatch high-value items kept behind the counter. This solution is specifically tailored for operations involving the secure transaction of goods or objects, like express retail environments or petrol forecourts. 

Safetell’s SafeShield Specialist Glazing offers a secure area solution featuring a steel-framed, anti-physical attack glazing system. It is designed to protect staff and counter areas from attacks and robberies while maintaining practicality and an attractive aesthetic that blends in with the existing store design.

There are a few reasons why these screens are the preferred security installation of choice for retailers across the UK:

  • Versatility: Screen systems are capable of accommodating multi-tiered and shaped counterwork, providing flexibility in design to meet client premises and corporate requirements. Screens can also be installed where there is existing counterwork, minimising costs as well as disruption during installation. 
  • Customisation: Safetell offers an extensive range of shapes and sizes tailored to suit specific client needs, such as branding. This ensures a bespoke solution for each set of corporate and operational requirements.
  • Adaptability: Screens can be seamlessly fitted to both new and existing counterwork, allowing businesses to enhance their security measures without making significant structural changes.
  • Transaction Gaps: Transactions are typically facilitated through vertical or horizontal transaction gaps between the glazing base and the counter surface, maintaining a secure yet practical means of interaction.
  • Full Security Solution: A screen system can include the counterwork and security door as an integral part of the overall security solution, offering a comprehensive approach to safeguarding against physical attacks.
  • High-Security Features: Glazing offers various levels of attack resistance and an integrated security door with high-specification locks, providing a comprehensive security package.

These advanced glazing systems not only act as a physical barrier against criminal activities but also provide staff with a greater sense of safety and security while at work, which can improve their well-being and morale.


Retailers are recognising the importance of security screens in their businesses, especially when it comes to keeping staff (and stock) safe and secure against physical attacks and theft. 

If you are concerned about theft or the safety and security of your staff, get in touch with Safetell today. Backed by years of experience, glowing testimonials, and a host of certifications, Safetell can provide peace of mind when it comes to your retail business.