Tips for Retailers to Reduce ‘Sweethearting’

Tips for retailers to reduce sweethearting

According to a report from Retail Knowledge, the single biggest cause of loss to retailers in the US is employee theft. In 2015, employee theft accounted for 43% of lost revenue for retailers, amounting to around $18 billion. The majority of employee theft happens during checkout, where a cashier can give away merchandise without charge by pretending to scan a product. This practice is known as ‘sweethearting’, as the employee identifies a ‘sweetheart’ customer, generally a friend, family member or colleague, to receive the unauthorized free giveaway.

Sweethearting can be difficult to detect and it is best tackled on multiple fronts.

1. Employee education

Retailers should educate employees about the impact sweethearting has on the overall success of a business. The business should ensure that all employees understand the severity of theft and they are aware of the consequences when they are caught.

2. Access control

Access control gates are the perfect solution for directing the flow of customers and staff at exits, while maintaining an additional level of security within the retail environment. Access control gates can range from manual mechanical gates, to automatic gates, depending on the level of security required. You can find out more about access control gates here.

3. People flow at checkout

As the majority of employee theft occurs at the checkout, where employees give unauthorized discounts to a ‘sweetheart’ customer, it is vital for retailers to control the flow of people through the checkout area. Retailers can do this by introducing a single line queue. When a store implements this form of queuing, all customers join the same line at checkout and are served in the order they arrive. As a result of single line queuing, the choice of which line to join, or more importantly, which employee will serve them is eliminated. This technique makes it harder for employees to pre-arrange ‘sweethearting’, as customers are called forward to the next available checkout.


Retailers should ensure CCTV equipment is monitoring their most value products and areas that are most vulnerable to theft. After a theft event, retailers can use security videos to identify potential suspects as well as determine whether there is a theft hot-spot in store, they can then use this intelligence to reduce the risk of future theft.

To find out how Tensator’s solutions can reduce ‘sweethearting’ and employee theft, please contact us.

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