22nd February 2021

The Hot Topic – Increased Online Orders, Increased Warehouse Crime?

At the end of March last year, the Government announced a national lockdown in the UK which subsequently shut all non-essential shops whilst also limiting the number of shoppers within supermarkets and pharmacies.

In order for the UK consumer to buy items that weren’t classed as essential, they were forced to order everything online, as not to leave the house unnecessarily. Even when shops were being introduced and reopened, many took to ordering online from the safety of their homes. So, how has this changed the face of retail and their supply chains? 

As mentioned, ecommerce sales surged during 2020 even when non-essential shops were able to reopen. Thanks to Black Friday, Christmas and the UK lockdown that happened in the final quarter, November and December saw a sales growth of 39% and 37%. According to E Consultancy, “Overall…online sales grew by 36% in 2020, which is the highest growth seen in 13 years.” The growth of online sales and orders meant the logistics industry needed to keep up with the higher demand. So not only did volumes increase, but the profile of goods being shipped evolved too, with consumers buying even the largest of items online. These higher profile goods meant distribution centres and warehouses were stocking more and more, leaving them open to robberies and theft.

This was a familiar sight for Sports Direct, a popular sports retail chain, experiencing a robbery of stock from their distribution warehouse during the first lockdown. According to the Sun, “stock worth up to £1million was pinched from a warehouse.” And they weren’t the only ones to experience robbery during COVID-19. A report from Cheshire Live, stated that a Warrington based warehouse was subject to a robbery back in December, with a gang of criminals attempting to steal goods. So, with the speed in which consumers are buying online and the increased level of crime targeted towards the distribution centres and warehouses holding them, how do these sites protect themselves and the stock from theft?

For years distribution centres and warehouses have found comfort in standard physical perimeter security to protect their sites from intrusion. The fencing perimeters have always been everyday systems to keep thieves out, which have worked for many years. However, with many experiencing heightened levels of attacks, during the pandemic and whilst holding more stock as demand increases, is it time for them to seek high level security measures in order to protect the premises? With many distribution centres sometimes spanning as large as towns, the vulnerabilities start to show. With a site that large, high security physical measures would protect through deterrence, detection and delaying potential intruders looking to thieve.