Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Security cameras can “see” a lot more these days…


stoplift-sweethearting-retail-goodsSweethearting (v.) the act of a store employee giving a friend or family member free merchandise by pretending to scan items at the register or by ignoring items in shopping carts.

It is one of the oldest tricks in the book and a big problem for retailers. So big, in fact, that some estimates suggest that “sweethearting” and other types of employee theft account for almost half of all annual retail theft, or $19.5 billion out of $41.6 billion overall.

Massachusetts-based StopLift Inc. says the answer is just waiting to be liberated from all of the security camera tape that retailers typically don’t monitor until something goes really, really wrong.

We’ve all seen the video of outrageous things that can happen in grocery stores, convenience shops, and retail outlets, but the reality is that watching the security feeds from cameras mounted above every register is time-consuming — so most of that video information goes unused.

Check Out Line: Picture this bankruptcy


ritzcamera1Check out this development at Ritz Camera Centers. 
The largest U.S. specialty camera and imaging chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
In some ways, what happened at Ritz is typical of the pressures put on many retailers in this recession. The company said lenders ordered it to boost reserves, which reduced available credit.
Also, the recession caused holiday sales to be “materially lower” than a year earlier.
But the company was also offering a service fewer and fewer consumers needed: photo processing. With more people using digital cameras and “developing” the pictures on their computers, Ritz was coming under more pressure.
“The loss of revenues and profit margins from the diminution in the photo-finishing business proved too much of a burden,” Chief Restructuring Officer Marc Weinsweig said in an affidavit.
Also in the basket:
Toymaker Lego sees rising 2009 sales
Consumer-goods makers heed ‘paycheck cycle’ (WSJ)
Campbell Soup profit falls
PepsiCo scraps changes to Tropicana (N.Y. Times)