News

Hot job market has Calgary retailers feeling shoplifters' pinch

Calgary retailers say the city's hot labour market has made it difficult to find staff during the holiday shopping season to help curb the increased number of shoplifters.

Calgary retailers say the city's hot labour market has made it difficult to find staff during the holiday shopping season to help curb the increased number of shoplifters.

The Retail Council of Canada estimates that retailers across the country lose more than $7 million a day to theft, with retailers reporting a spike in shoplifting rates every year during December.

Insidethe Chinook Centre,one of Calgary'sbiggest malls,Quinn Zapatch said preventing theft at his cosmetics shop is difficult because he is short-staffed and can't find enough people to work.

"Even if our staffing levels are down, we are that much more aware and that much more able to identify those potential risks," Zapatch told CBC News.

He said cracking down on shoplifting is crucial because profit margins are small in retail.

"Those two dollars that we've had to lose on that product comes right off that bottom line and it makes it really difficult and really tough."

In October, Alberta Human Resources and Employment reported a shortage of about 6,000 workersto fill new job openings that popped up in the province in the last year.

That shortage exists despite the fact Alberta brings in nearly 40 per cent of all the country's new workers. The province maintains the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

Within the same mall, toy-store owner John Tate said sales are great this season, but noted more shoplifters try to take advantage of the cover holiday crowds give them.

"I think more traffic means more theft, and I think that means there has to be proper methods in place to police it," Tate told CBC News.

Best defence

He said some of those methods include hidden cameras and sensors, but his best defence is more people on his payroll paying attention to customers.

"There is nothing that is better for theft prevention than the simple usage of staff members and eyes," he said.

As retailersscramble forhired help, the mall's security manager, Jody Reid, said he has increased his security force by about 30 per cent for this year's holiday shopping season with full-time staff inside and outside the shopping centre.

Reid said he has also given seminars to many of the stores in the mall on how to cut back on holiday theft.

now