Loiterers Told Where to Go
Loiterers hanging outside a store are a good way to drive away customers and no retailer wants that. Now, there are various methods for dealing with those who do not seem to have a better place to go. Managers, store security, etc. can go outside to shush loiterers away. Stores have also tried pumping loud country or classical music into parking lots to discourage loiterers from hanging about.
A new system, named Message on Demand, takes a slightly approach by transmitting verbal messages to those who don’t know when to get when the getting is good. The system is activated in the store by a push of a button.
The system has a variety of messages it can broadcast including, “Attention please: You are on private property. No loitering or illegal activities are allowed at this location. All activities are being monitored and recorded. You must leave the premises immediately or the police will be called.”
So far, the Message on Demand system is being used in 10 7-Eleven stores, two Valero Energy gas stations and a supermarket operated by Supervalu.
Scot Lins, director of corporate loss prevention at 7-Eleven, told The Wall Street Journal, that retailers are having to implement systems to discourage loitering because, “We are finding more cities that are using nuisance-abatement ordinances to put the onus on the retailer or to get them more actively involved.”
7-Eleven found itself in a situation in Denver where authorities threatened to close a store because “it had become a haven for drug dealing”. The chain decided to close the store on its own and then began looking for ways to keep it from facing similar situations in other locations. As a result, it now uses the Message on Demand system in four stores in Denver and Dallas, one in Philadelphia and another in Portsmouth, Va.
Samuel Mudumala, who operates the two Valero stations in Kansas City, Mo., said loiterers do not like the system telling them to leave.
“They really don’t want to walk away, but they do,” he said.
The Message on Demand can also tell loiterers to move along in a variety of languages including Spanish and Hmong. It can also produce reports on the number of times messages are played and when along with recording if police needed to be summoned.
Mr. Lins predicts that up to 100 of 7-Eleven’s company’s 5,800 U.S. and Canadian stores may eventually use the system.
Discussion Questions: How big an issue is loitering and related undesirable activity on retail store properties? Should retailers be legally accountable
for the activities that take place on their property outside of stores?
Rosemary Erickson, a retail security consultant with Athena Research Corp., told The Wall Street Journal that for the typical retail chain, “about
10 percent of the stores have nuisance-abatement issues.”