How Does Loitering Affect Business?

Loitering occurs when individuals or groups hang around the outside or interior of a business without any intent to patronize the store. This is a common problem in many metropolitan areas. Communities and small companies often collaborate to try to minimize loitering because of the negative effects it can have on businesses and the communities where they operate.

Deters Customers

Loiterers can deter customers, especially in neighborhoods with high levels of homelessness and panhandling. Businesses often struggle to combat loitering, as most have limited means to remove loiterers who aren’t asking potential customers for money. Customers might approach a business but be turned off by the appearance or behavior of loiterers who are nearby. Traffic to an area may wane as word gets around about people loitering there.

Creates Security Concerns

Retail employees are told to watch for loiterers who might be shoplifters. Customers hanging around in stores without active buying behavior sometimes cause security concerns, forcing employees to focus on watching them to ensure they don’t steal. Some businesses have to deal with groups loitering outside their stores that can lead to heightened instances of vandalism, fighting and disturbances that cause exterior security threats.

Costs Money

Loitering has indirect costs because of the problems it causes. Some companies employ more security workers and use more expensive security systems than are otherwise necessary because of loiterers. The time employees spend monitoring or interacting with loiterers is also costly, because they aren’t focused on product sales and service work. Companies also lose customers and revenue opportunities because of loiterers in some cases. In an April 2013 article in “The Spokesman-Review,” a Spokane coffee shop owner noted that customers tell her they don’t like having to walk past crowds of young loiterers in front of her door.

Public Image Concerns

The way a company handles loitering can result in public image or perception problems. Some companies have tried aggressively to get loiterers, especially homeless people, to flee the area. This has led to conflict with city officials and downtown commissions and negative media attention in some cases. The “Spokesman-Review” article also indicated that some businesses use electronic sound-emitting devices to deter younger loiterers. A winery manager noted, though, that young customers of his business have complained about the sound. Negative news about fights or vandalism near a business also hurts the public’s perception about the safety and comfort of shopping in the area.

Culled from Chron

Original Author: Neil Kokemuller