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Last edited 20 Oct 2020
Supermarket security and COVID-19
In the context of supermarkets, the term “security” may be associated with deterring shoplifters. This is still both very true and very important. Currently (and sadly for the foreseeable future), managing COVID-19 situations are also a priority.
Even when COVID-19 ceases to be an issue, businesses will want to be ready for another pandemic to avoid a repeat of the chaos experienced during this outbreak. With that in mind, here are some points to consider.
 Use of personal vehicles is likely to be relatively high
Out-of-town supermarkets are probably already run on the assumption that most, if not all, of their customers will need secure parking. Supermarkets in urban areas, by contrast, often have very little parking on the logic that a significant percentage of their customers will use public transport.
COVID-19 is, however, encouraging people to use their own vehicles whenever they can. This means that urban supermarkets will need to ensure that their car parks are run to the highest possible standards of efficiency and security.
Increased use of personal vehicles means increased possibilities for confusion and, frankly, conflict over parking spaces. It also increases the likelihood of deliberate breaches, such as the inappropriate use of disabled parking bays.
The most effective approach to dealing with this is to have human staff on hand to referee the situation. These don’t necessarily all have to be security staff, but it could be useful to have at least one member of security staff on duty, just to be on the safe side.
Ticketed queueing systems have been in use for years. The only difference is that staff would assign customers tickets as they arrived and then alert them when it was their turn to enter the supermarket.
This allows customers to wait in their cars in comfort and safety. This will improve their experience and hopefully put them in a better frame of mind when they do enter the store. This is good for them and good for staff.
Once people are out of their cars, it is important to make it easy for them to follow the necessary social distancing rules. Their general safety must also be maintained. After all, there’s no point in keeping people socially distant from each other if it results in somebody walking into the path of a car.
All the usual security precautions still need to be followed. In fact, arguably, there’s an even greater need for them. This is because the increased use of personal vehicles could present increased opportunities for criminals.
If supermarkets really need to get people in and out of the store as quickly as possible, then the most efficient approach would be to have staff do as much as they can to pre-pack customers’ orders. Customers can then use their time in the store to select the items they want to choose themselves.
Obviously, this poses logistical challenges and will not be suitable in all cases, but it is still worth keeping in mind.
--Newgate 14:08, 23 Sep 2020 (BST)
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