Canadians Have Mixed Feelings About Security Measures in Retail: Leger Poll

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Recently, retail stores in Canada have faced criticism for implementing additional anti-theft measures to deter shoplifting.

But a recent poll by Leger indicates Canadians are most supportive of retailers implementing security cameras (88 per cent), electronic anti-theft alarms (85 per cent), and security guards (78 per cent).

The poll also found that Canadians are least supportive of retailers implementing limits to the number of customers allowed in stores (32 per cent), customers needing to leave bags in a locker/with an employee while shopping (32 per cent) and/or requiring customers to show ID to make a purchase (17 per cent).

Security Signage at Beddington’s (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

The poll also found:

  • 45 per cent of Canadians think retailers are implementing the right amount of security measures to prevent theft, while 27 per cent think they are not implementing enough. Only 10 per cent think retailers are implementing too many security measures;
  • Over half (53 per cent) of Canadians think that where they live, there is about the same amount of shoplifting as other places in Canada. B.C. residents are more likely to think there is more where they live than in other areas.
Ian Large

Ian Large, Executive Vice-President, Consumer Insights for Leger, said people are starting to notice the security cameras.

“Because there’s been this significant increase in awareness of and conversations about shoplifting and security and you see these videos showing up on Facebook or YouTube with people just sort of emptying store shelves, there’s a heightened sensitivity to it,” he said.

“What I find particularly interesting in this poll is that there is a lot of support for most of these security measures and that’s going to be new.”

Large said inflation and affordability are top of mind for Canadians these days.

“There is a recognition that people stealing from grocery stores raises the prices. Those costs, that shrinkage, gets passed directly onto the consumer on top of the added costs for supply chain issues and the added costs of inflation . . . Most Canadians are saying I’m already paying so much for these things now these ne’er-do-wells who are shoplifting I’m going to have to pay even more to support their bad behaviour. And I’m not willing to do that,” he said.

“Somebody’s got to pay for it. And I don’t think consumers are naive to think that oh that’s just the cost of doing business or my grocery store or Apple store they’ll just absorb it. I think Canadians are smart enough to know that they the consumers bear the costs of those thefts.”

Security Camera and In-Store Video at Winners (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Some other key findings of the report:

  • Three out of four Canadians have seen security cameras in the stores where they shop, and over a third saw electronic anti-theft alarms and locked display cases (68 per cent). On the other hand, less than one out of five Canadians saw the elimination of self-checkout machines (15 per cent), limits to the number of customers allowed in the store (13 per cent) and requiring customers to scan their ID (10 per cent);
  • Two thirds of Canadians said they would (or do) feel safe working in a retail store, with a significantly higher proportion among Quebec respondents (75 per cent).
Loblaw Carlton Street Security Gates (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Loblaw Carlton Street Security Gates (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Large said he was interested in seeing from the survey that in Quebec there is significantly less visibility for these security measures but much higher in Ontario.

“The other thing that really stood out to me is how much lower support was among young people for any of these introductions of these security measures and anti-theft measures, which is ironic because they’re the ones that can least afford it when prices go up,” he said.

“Young people are hyper sensitive about privacy issues and when you’re talking about security cameras and mirrors in stores, employees checking receipts, those are privacy issues for young people. That’s something that strikes a chord with them or raises red flags with them.

“But the other part of it is there’s probably less understanding of the connection between theft and increased prices.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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